It’s been a while since we’ve had a Grumpy Old Bag article so here I am to fill the void.
So my rant for the day is that for some people there is always an excuse or someone else to blame as to why things didn’t go to plan. Yes sometimes you can have unfortunate bad luck but it is our job as riders to best prepare ourselves and our horses so that when bad luck does strike we are best prepared.
When it comes to excuses the below are a small list which I have genuinely heard;
The ground was too soft/hard
The jump was yellow, he always knocks yellow fences.
The weather was too hot/cold/wet/windy (delete (or not!) as appropriate)
The judge’s car was white, he hates white cars and wouldn’t go near it.
My horse was distracted by the mounted score collectors
My horse was distracted by a spectator (standing where a spectator could legitimately stand)
I got time faults because the arena clock wasn’t working for my round so I couldn’t tell I was going too slow (but the judge’s was)
The course builder built all the distances long
Someone was hogging the warm up fences
Someone was talking right through my test
I had to ask XYZ to call the test and they had awful timing
Almost all the above could have been mitigated or removed as excuses in advance by the rider. Granted ground is a tricky subject but as long as there is not a physical/veterinary reason, there is no reason why horses can’t be correctly exposed to all ground conditions. We are eventers after all and we normally pride ourselves that we don’t need a perfectly level all weather arena to compete in!
My point is instead of always blaming a non perfect result on something or someone else use it as a learning tool for next time. Expose your horse to all ground conditions, weather, fence types, distances long and short, distractions and just about everything you can. It’s absolutely fine to say ‘my horse reacted unexpectedly due to XYZ but now I’m off to correct that for next time’ but to blame XYZ and then do nothing about it, you will always encounter the same problems at competitions. Yes if you endure a freak hailstorm and everyone else competes in bright sunshine you would probably be justified in blaming the weather but if it rains the whole day you are competing in the same conditions as everyone else, then those that don’t avoid riding in the rain and instead use it as a schooling opportunity will be the ones that inevitably come out on top.
Our Eventing Vet wrote a great article on essentially the same subject a few years ago about making your own luck. Stop making excuses and use everything as a training tool to improve your performance, after all remember the 5 Ps (or 6 if your in the army…!)
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!