I’m not sure when I became a competitive person. Growing up my parents were good athletes and ambitious people, but I never felt a pressure to succeed or be the best. But from an early age I remember watching my mom play tennis and wanting her to win. And at summer camp I always wanted to be picked for the team and do well. And most of the time I did. I worked hard at something and succeeded. I coveted those trophies for swim meets much like I do those ribbons for eventing today.
But every once in a while, the competitive side of me makes me lose perspective. I will admit that I am 95% competitive with myself. I want to be the best I can be, and as an adult I understand there will always be people better at things than I am. But if I am not the best I can be I get pissed. And I start to compare myself to others, and as you can imagine, this leads to an unhealthy way of living.
Lately, with my back hurting, it’s been hard for me to be the best rider I can be. And then I get angry. And feel bad for Georgie. And just want to throw in the towel. I was so excited to jump in today’s lesson. I have jumped once since October, but I thought that magically I would be fine, and it would be easy. It wasn’t. I was out of shape, and had trouble catching my breath. As a competitive athlete who works out 5 days a week can you imagine how embarrassing this was for me? And then, my lower leg, which has always had a mind of its own, was so ineffective I may as well have been a lower leg amputee.
And this made me angry. It made me angry that my horse can’t listen to my aids and get better because my aids are ineffective. It made me angry because I want to get better and I want to be a good rider, and right now it’s a struggle. Having this back injury has made me do so many core exercises and I think that has really helped my dressage. But it hasn’t helped my lower leg, and that was a wake up call today.
So, because I am competitive I will work my ass off to get that leg to go where it needs to. More time in our jump tack, and more time cantering, in jumping position, fatiguing those muscles. Until it is the best it can be. So Georgie can understand what I am asking, and so that when I need her to push on to a jump, my leg is there for support and guidance.
But lets go back to that perspective for a moment. I am an adult amateur eventer with a back injury and a full time job. I can work on the back, but there’s no guarantee it will ever be 100% better. And I can ride 5-6 nights a week, but I am never going to have a string of horses to ride, or enough time to ride them, because I need to make a living to support all of this. So, I can get better with what I have. And I can work towards getting better with what I have, but I need to keep things in perspective. You better believe I am going to continue to be competitive with myself. But perhaps with that competitiveness there always needs to be a side of perspective.