Horse rules 2019
The new year is the start of a big anniversary for my sister and me! It’s our fourth year showing as amateur equestrians without the assistance of a horse professional.
Its crazy to think, that three years ago, we were bringing along a 5-year-old jumper. Interestingly, McKenzie jumped the one-time green bean in their first Grand Prix successfully in September! We still haven’t gotten over that highlight.
As amateur equestrians, the journey is satisfying, although sometimes overwhelming. When something doesn’t go as planned at a horse show, there is no one waiting to tell us what happened ringside. There is no horse professional doing training rides at or before the horse show. Additionally, there’s no one providing a quick fix, but instead, it’s back to the drawing board.
The fine line of relying on the help of others while still being able to think for yourself is a common paradox among horse riders and trainers in the equine industry.
I would like to say that every horse show is a success but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as you know.
So, how do I stay positive, focused, and keep my sanity? Here are a few key things I’ve learned.
Equestrian’s 5 self-care habits
Know your limits
One of the most important things I’ve discovered in this industry is to know my limits. That’s because my horses’ health comes first. My top priority is that they receive the best care possible.
It is also a priority that we manage their soundness in a similar manner. Who wouldn’t want to go to horse shows offering the biggest show jumping prize money? Or go to horse shows that are closer in proximity to our farm?
And yet, those things are worthless if horse show management does a poor job managing the facilities, especially the arena footing. It’s not fair to our horses.
When problems arise during a show, we have to identify the root of the problem. Then we find a solution.
For instance, during the spring of 2016, we competed at an AA show in Conyers, GA. During the two weeks, one of our horses had difficulty jumping through one-stride combinations. How does a horse go from jumping double-clear 1.35 courses to struggling in a 1.20 class?
In past situations, I would get assistance from my horse trainer for this type of issue. As mentioned in my last article, my sister and I no longer train with a horse PRO.
Past horse trainers, clinics, and life experiences now provide me with the valuable resources I pull from my “tool bag” when we face a challenge.
Regarding the one-stride, after discussing with my sister we talked with a few friends. They confirmed our thoughts that the horse show’s footing was too deep, which made it difficult for our little horse to jump.
Focus: trust and emotional health
Independence is great, but my sister and I know we can’t do everything on our own. Having a trusted network of horse friends is irreplaceable! Building your support team with reliable people that you can count on never fails to come in handy. For instance, chatting with horse trainer friends helped me make some necessary changes to our horses’ programs.
I’ve learned that the equine community is kind of like a big dysfunctional family. After all, people are people. There are good and bad ones, although sometimes it is tough to differentiate between the two.
That’s why, once someone shows us who they are, we believe them. In our life, there’s no room for toxic energy. We find our people and stick with them.
Leave the judging in the ring
Standing solo at the in-gate while my sister competes is nerve-racking as well as thrilling. Her success is a sign that our hard work is paying off.
Equestrians must display physical endurance and emotional resilience to succeed. And, if we don’t have a good day showing, that doesn’t mean anyone failed. Everyone, including horses, have off days. That’s why a low score in a jumper class or a rail down in the ring doesn’t ruin my day.
Before arriving at every horse show, we put in the work. In the end, if we don’t win, we are learning.
For us, as adult amateur equestrians not working with a horse PRO, we understand that our way is unconventional. Although, it can succeed with the right mindset.
Next time, find out how this independent horsewoman shops for horses!
Olivia Kasper has been a part of the equine industry for the majority of her 22-years. Now, Olivia helps around her family’s private Georgia horse farm. Additionally, she works with her younger sister to handle their horses’ training needs. Their first project horse just made his successful debut as a Grand Prix Jumper in fall 2018.