Taking a Day to Celebrate

Every year when I leave a summer horse show, coated in 15 layers of sweat and filth, rubbed raw in places that shouldn’t ever be, I think “omg, why did I do that? That was miserable.” and then the next year I do it again anyway.

Horse people, we are gluttons for punishment.

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BUT WE LOVE PONIES

I feel a little bit like a walking piece of beef jerky today. I drank 12 bottles of water in less than 24 hours (and was asleep for 8 of those hours) but I still basically attached my mouth to the hose after XC and chugged. Then stopped on the way home for a Powerade and chugged that too. I have to give the show management many props for how they organized the ride times this year, though. My dressage was late on Saturday evening, and we were done with stadium and XC before 9am on Sunday. The riding parts were the most pleasant.

The show recap will have to wait until tomorrow though, mostly because I need to organize myself a bit more before I tackle that. Spoiler alert: we won.

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But I have to be honest, it didn’t really feel like a very deserving win. I made some mistakes and had some bleh moments and picked up my ribbon mostly just feeling like I’d ended up on the lucky end of things that day. A friend of mine said that I was the most self-deprecating person she knew, a comment that I kept mulling over as I packed my things and started driving home. I fell into a cycle of glancing at the ribbon on the dash, mulling over my rounds in my head, and then thinking about her observation.

Finally I got tired of myself and starting flipping through radio stations, trying to find literally anything without static until I could get enough signal to turn on Spotify. Quite serendipitously, as I was pushing that Seek button over and over and over, one sentence came through loud and clear out of the static – “There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy”.Β Not sure if you’ve ever spent much time driving through Texas, but the stations we unfailingly have the most coverage for are the Christian stations, and that’s what this was. The signal quickly faded away to static again as I went down the hill, but I found myself pausing for a second on that particular lyric.

That was really the perfect way to phrase what I was doing to myself… stealing my own joy. We won our first HT ever (pretty sure? I think our other wins have been in derbies and CT’s.) at a level that at one time seemed like my own personal version of Rolex, and here I was, stuck on a couple of fences that I rode sloppily. My friend’s observation was spot on – I AM super self-deprecating. I couldn’t even give myself one friggin day to just enjoy the fact that we finally came out on top before I started analyzing and tearing apart every single mistake.

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giggling at how funny Henry looks in his suspender ice boots: never a mistake

I decided, in that moment, to just stop it. I turned my brain off, got just enough signal to open Spotify, and selected my “Horse Show” playlist… something I made a couple years ago to play when Bobby and I were driving to shows together. It’s a ridiculous mixture of really random songs, but they feel celebratory to me. I cranked that shit the whole rest of the way home and set everything else aside.

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So, tomorrow we’ll tear this thing apart and talk about what went right and what didn’t and what we need to work on. There are always plenty of those things. But for today I’m just gonna shove a bunch of cookies into my fantastic horse and appreciate the awesome journey that he’s taken me on.

28 thoughts on “Taking a Day to Celebrate

  1. You need to give yourself a little credit. A lot of (most!) wins in any competition of any kind come down to a little luck. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of skill and preparation to get to that spot where just a little luck puts you in the top spot. You have achieved a lot, look at the level you are competing (and winning!) at with an inexpensive horse and let yourself enjoy the scenery. You done good.

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  2. Yes. All of this. Winning doesn’t mean you went out and had a perfect ride, it means you went out and had a better ride than other people. And especially considering the level that you’re at, that’s a real accomplishment even if there were mistakes. Congrats on rockin’ it with your big brown beast!

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  3. I love this. Winning certainly isn’t everything, but we should all be able to be proud when we come away with a giant rosette. Congratulations on your win and on embracing your feeling of enjoying it.

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  4. First of all Congratulations! Ditto the above comments. If you hadn’t put in the work you wouldn’t have been in a position to win. Enjoy it. Secondly, second guessing and doubting? What kind of horse mom would you be if you didn’t second guess literally eve-rey-thing! Is he eating good? Is he pooping good? Are his legs tight/puffy/sore/popped? Does this saddle fit? Did I ride that line right? Is his shoulder dropping in/popping out? Do these breeches make my ass look big? Okay, maybe that last one is just me. If you don’t care to try to find your mistakes so you can improve upon them next time, then frankly, you don’t care.

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  5. you need a smack on the side of your head HARD πŸ™‚ LOL i am sure whatever mistakes you made were so tiny no one but you noticed. LOL Congrats on your win. COULDNT HAVE WON LAST YEAR when i came to see you there….noooooooooooooooooooooooo you had to wait till this year πŸ˜‰ HA…..

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  6. I think it’s important to step back and remember there’s no such thing as a perfect ride. Winning a class doesn’t ever happen because you were perfect. It happens because you were better than everyone else that day.
    You need to think about what went wrong so you can try and improve on it next time. But you also want to remember the good parts, and make sure those happen again.
    Congrats on the win! It IS a big deal. Own it!

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  7. I’m the same way (in terms of being self-deprecating, not being a badass and winning HTs), but I’m glad you got a reminder to stop and savor the joy for a bit. You have worked so hard and brought Henny so far — there’s a lot to be proud of there πŸ˜€

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  8. Some days you go out and ride everything really well and you end up not doing so well. Some days you don’t ride as well as you’d like and you end up first – in which case you TAKE THAT BLUE RIBBON AND RUN WITH IT GIRL!!! You have a lot to be proud of, and Henry needs more cookies anyway. Congrads!

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  9. Congrats to you and Henny!
    I agree with everyone else: you are way too hard on yourself. Look how far you’ve come already!! So I am happy to read that you decided to enjoy the achievement and be proud of yourself.. and the Henster himself. I think you should remember that you don’t only discredit your work but his as well if you think that you didn’t deserve to win. Henny would probably not like that…
    As a sidenote: why does he hate iceboots so much? I would think that in 100.000 degrees ice on your legs would be enjoyable..

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  10. It is hard to let ourselves have that joy of winning. It’s been a very hard road for me to not be so self-depreciating. I wonder sometimes if I’m over-positive on a lot of things because I’m working hard on letting myself feel the good instead of focusing solely on what went wrong, but I think the biggest thing is you’re aware of what you didn’t like. And from that, you’ll get better because you have the knowledge and drive to get better. That is also how horses are – we have our saints that bail us out when we make mistakes, and we have the ones that have to be ridden a certain way. Your ride was the best of the day, and the best ride won. So definitely feel your joy at winning, and then work for that next show. Because we all know you’ll be great πŸ˜‰

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