The one thing which makes my blood boil is people who think its fine to just give ‘things a go’ with absolutely no thought. I just do not understand this British (I say British because it seems very prevalent over here) mentality of setting yourself up to fail rather than setting yourself up for success.
If we use Katie Price as an example (for readers who have no idea who she is, she is a reality tv ‘star’) – several years ago she ran the London marathon and then collapsed at the end needing medical attention and had an ankle injury. Normally I would be sympathetic as so much hard work goes into preparing for a marathon but in this case, Katie Price had done absolutely no training apart from the odd trip to the gym, made no special efforts in getting to this event and had not eaten correctly before the event.
Horse people do this type of thing all the time. I think what especially annoys me is that the rider makes crazy decisions like the Katie Price example and yet they have no thought about the long term impact on the horse. Just sometimes the lunatic idea comes off, but most of the time I see disappointed riders and horses that come away from the experience a little bit bruised from either being pushed above what they know or being inadequately prepared.
What has prompted this tirade you may wonder? Well it was a post on a forum which asked complete strangers on the Internet if it was a good idea to enter a Puissance having seen it on TV. Except this rider had broken themselves in a fall jumping, not that long ago, had not jumped in a while and had recently done a clear round at 75cm. What a brilliant idea.
The second post I read on this forum was then asking if it was a good idea to just crack on and jump a 1.20m class despite only competing at 1.10m. Though, this person was training at 1.20m at home. So rather than chatting it through with an experienced person or a trainer this person was asking strangers on an internet forum about whether it was a good idea. There seemed to be no thought in this post about the end goal – jumping a 1.20m and how they were going to achieve that goal. Instead they were just going to chuck themselves in the deep end and see how they got on! This might work but the likelihood is it will be a disappointing experience all round.
It is this mentality that I feel we should not be encouraging people – to set out and fail. Instead we should be encouraging people to succeed.
We all do stupid things. I have done plenty and I would argue that I have got away with many of my mistakes but I have also failed and walked away feeling very disappointed because I set myself up to fail rather than succeed. The wakeup call for me was my compulsory retirement in the show jumping at my first BE Novice(I had done PC Opens in my youth). I was so upset but ultimately I had not done the homework required and actually from a safety point of view it was probably a good thing as I was probably not ready for the cross country.
Looking back I had no idea what homework I needed to do, I probably only listened to the advice I wanted to hear (or simply did not ask it!) and I was absolutely determined to go novice before a certain timeframe which I had set myself. Instead I should have taken a deep breath, not given a damn about what I thought I should be doing and done my homework! I truly learnt about the amount of homework required when spending the summer helping a pro friend. I saw the work that went into producing her horses that always went well and were pretty much placed every time out and it was an eye opener. I took that ethos into my next horse and funnily enough I had much better results. The harder I work, the luckier I get.
Sometimes I have watched trainers who are not telling people the truth and are skirting over the things that count because they are uncomfortable truths which could lose them a client. In a training relationship, everyone has to be honest. The rider needs to believe in the trainer; the system and the end result. The trainer needs to be honest, have integrity and a true desire to help that rider. While trainers need to be honest with riders, above all riders need to be honest with themselves. I was reading how one girl was looking for a new show jumping trainer because she was going to go Novice/1* next year. I looked at her record at BE90 and it was filled with mostly eliminations. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s dreams, as we should all shoot for the stars but there has to be a dose of realism. Surely this rider would be better off having much more realistic goals in the next year or so and telling the truth in the first place? Why does it matter so much for people to big themselves up when they are struggling at 90cm? Ultimately this lying to yourself will affect what advice is given so actually you are only damaging yourself.
There will always be that step into the unknown that you have to take which is actually moving up a level or doing your first competition but you might as well have a pleasant day rather than coming home having been eliminated at the first fence in the show jumping. There is no easy and quick route to success, it requires hard work and maybe a lot of people are just not prepared to do that now?
While I probably sound really grumpy right now, one of the greatest pleasures I get is watching my friends succeed when I know they have worked really hard. Take my friend Mandy who a couple of years ago smashed her arm up badly while show jumping, she lost her confidence and has had a few years where it was all very rocky with her green sharp horse and actually even wanting to jump. The other day she won a British Novice. I was thrilled for her. It may not be a big thing for some people but I know the years it has taken for this friend to put together all the pieces for this success to come off. Realism and hard work were a large aspect of it. It was not a quick journey, it was certainly not easy but the pieces are now in place for her to keep building on success. There was certainly no ‘just giving it a go’ for Mandy. Mandy had set herself up to succeed that day with going to the venue for a lesson the week before after work and in the dark, getting to the venue early to do the clear round before the class and gradually pushing herself and her confidence in classes ready to make that next step and succeed.
A simple change in mind set can reap massive rewards and asking yourself how you can set yourself up to succeed and make the day a success will inevitably see better results.