The ups and downs of riding and competition!
Originally Published in The Rider, May 2022 - Reflecting on the first 3 day race of the year. You could sense it in the air that everyone was so happy to get out, connect with each other and their horses.
The moments I want to talk about, as I look back to all the ups and downs of riding and competition is this:
We can be our worst enemy. We assume the thoughts of others and we tend to think the worst. We feel “they’re” watching our every move with judgment and it affects how we feel about ourselves. I’m here to say this, no one cares as much as you think they do. Focus on you and on your happiness. Try your best and know that that is good enough. The results will fall how they will fall, which means we can only control how we feel about ourselves. Focus on you, enjoy the moment with your horses and know anything happening externally, real or not doesn't need to take up space inside yourself.
We are all here trying our best in the arena and it all looks different. Nothing about each rider is completely alike so we cannot expect to be someone or somewhere we are not meant to be right now. Just know you are not alone. We are all facing some sort of difficulties. We are fully in this together.
Now to the leg and ego with new bruises and scrapes; Embrace it! Even though it sucks to hit a barrel or have a less than ideal performance, make sure you always acknowledge and appreciate your efforts. That cut on your leg is the proof you’re trying. You’re in the arena which is a victory within itself. Celebrate that. I know we all feel we are capable of doing better in one way or another. But, with the right mindset towards failure, we can achieve what we set out to do as long as we keep showing up, failing forward and ultimately getting closer to our goals.
Cheering for others, supporting others and loving others will come back to you. It costs you nothing to smile, to say congratulations, to tell someone they’re doing great, even though you know they don’t fully believe you. Be a reason someone starts to notice the things they’ve done right, or appreciates their horse a bit more. The domino effect is real, pass on your energy so they can become that reason for someone else too. Supporting, cheering, collaborating with others creates a community full of positivity and encouragement. We can all cheer for one another.
Take every opportunity to learn. Every run, every experience is a new chance to learn something new. Do it for you and for your growth. Don’t think you need to know it all by now. You are still growing and you are still learning. As long as you’re breathing, you’re going to be learning. Give yourself a break in this moment and know the lessons learnt now are preparing you for the future you desire. We take small steps, 1% better everyday. Don’t think you need to know it all now. Enjoy the run or event with the expectations of experiencing it fully and walk away with a deeper understanding. That way, you are always winning!
Shelby Olyschlager Bio: Shelby is the host of the We Can Hustle Podcast. She strives to deliver weekly support, education and connection for everyone going through their own unique journey with horses. As a barrel racer, she has learnt through her own trial and error how to create real changes withinc ourselves and within our equine partners. She shares her lessons and the lessons of guests on her show and social channels. “It all starts with ourselves. If we can approach life with empathy, an open mind and determination; we can all achieve what we set out to do.”