How bad do you really want it...

How many times in your life have you found yourself uttering an excuse, a reason to justify why you can't do something? Million of times a day people are making excuses as to why something is too hard, or they are too busy, and equestrians are not exempt from this seemingly compulsive disease.

I cannot count the number of times that a student has given me a reason, or reasons, why they cannot complete the task at hand. From being too short to saddle their own horse, or their boots being too big/small, to put their heels down, to being too distracted and or tired. I myself have found the words of an excuse falling from my lips a time or ten.

Like with all things in life, there are of course exceptions to the rule. Yet when it comes down to it, you must ask yourself ... How bad do I really want it? Is your desire to be a great rider strong enough to accept the fact that 95% of the times the mistake is that of the rider and not the horse? Is your drive to improve your position intense enough to warrant the sore muscles that come from endless hours of practice with and without stirrups or even tack? Are you dedicated enough to ignore the blistered heels from new boots, the headaches from wearing your helmet for hours on end, or the genuine exhaustion from a tough ride?

In order to ride and especially to show in the equine industry, one must be strong both mentally and physically. Like many other athletes and performers, equestrians must be able to work with an audience. They must be able to shut out the crowd and focus on the communication between themselves and their 1200 lb. partner. They must be able to not only focus their own mind, but be able to influence that of another independent thinker. A rider must be able to shake off the frustration and disappointment from a bad round in minutes and not allow pride or vanity to disrupt their thought.

Riders who are in it for the long haul must be willing to give up numerous social events, weekends, and sometimes their non-equine friends. Each time I am invited to an event I find myself responding with some form of the words, "let me check the horse show schedule", and on the off chance I am not at a horse show, the odds are that there will be a sick horse or last minute issue that will arise. The few times you will schedule something at an exact time, is usually guaranteed to be the night someone will colic. However the times spent at the horse shows, or the late nights at the barn will become some of the most invaluable moments of your life. The events that you miss, will not seem so important a few months down the road and will undoubtably come around again. You will make amazing friends with-in your community and your true non-equine friends will stick around despite your constant disappearances , horsey smell, and strange attire. Occasionally they will even begin to understand, and even make appearances at an equine event.

At the end of the day, each rider must decide how involved in the equine world they want to be. To be a true equestrian, one must be willing to give it all they have,to put in the endless hours that it takes to become truly great. They must be willing to accept the workouts, the time, the training, the practice, the failures, the wins, the pain, the joy, and the lessons that it takes to become successful. There will be bad days when you just can't seem to speak the same language as your horse, but they will be outnumbered by the days where it's as if you and your horse are one. There will be times when it seems as if you can't do anything right, but those are the moments when you are learning skills that will make you even better. The days when the last thing you want to do is go to the barn, are the ones on which you will have the best ride ever. Horses are the worlds best teachers, the most athletic partners, and the worlds most effective therapy. If you choose to become an equestrian, give it all you've got and more.