We know that horse riding is more than just a pastime; it’s a way of life, a true passion that gets into your veins, your heart, and your soul. We are a unique breed, aren’t we?
While we are on this equestrian journey, we can sometimes be our own harshest critics. It’s a startling truth, but one that we need to talk about openly. After all, the first step towards change is acceptance and understanding. Here are five reasons why horse riders often come down so hard on themselves.
1. Striving for Perfection
Our desire to attain perfection is a double-edged sword. It’s the drive that pushes us towards greatness, but it’s also the voice in our head that magnifies our missteps. We can fall into an ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking pattern, convincing ourselves that every ride must be flawless, with zero margin for error. This perspective not only fuels self-criticism but can also become a barrier to growth. Remember, the pursuit of excellence is admirable, but perfection? That’s a myth. True growth stems from the courage to make mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward.
2. The Comparison Trap
In the age of social media and televised equestrian events, it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. We see other riders performing brilliantly and wonder why we aren’t at the same level. It’s crucial to remember that everyone’s equestrian journey is unique, with its own highs, lows, and plateaus. Allow others’ successes to inspire you rather than intimidate you. Recognize that the skill and experience aren’t finite resources. There’s enough room for everyone to shine, including you.
3. Anxiety Over Failing Our Horses
Some riders grapple with a deep-seated fear of letting their horse down. Low self-esteem can lead to an internal narrative convincing us that we are inadequate riders and that our horse deserves better. It’s crucial to remember that horses, beyond their basic needs, do not have expectations of us like humans do. They don’t perceive their potential in the way we might. So, let’s exchange this fear for the desire to provide our horse with a healthy and joyful life, with or without competitive successes.
4. The Desire to Represent Equestrianism Well
Many riders feel the weight of representing equestrianism to the non-riding world. We’re ambassadors for our passion and we feel a deep responsibility to uphold and honor the sport. This sense of duty can lead to a cycle of self-criticism when we feel we’ve not met these high expectations.
5. Shadows of the Past
Past negative experiences, such as a bad fall or injury, can instill fear and self-blame, leading to heightened self-criticism. If we’ve experienced trauma, we might berate ourselves for feeling scared or apprehensive. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s okay to feel scared and it’s not our fault. By acknowledging our feelings and seeking professional help if needed, we can begin to heal and regain our confidence.
Riding is a lifelong journey of learning. As riders, we celebrate our successes but also critically analyze our mistakes to learn from them. However, there’s a fine line between constructive self-critique and self-deprecation. It’s important to remember that mistakes are stepping stones, not stumbling blocks.
So, what can we do about this? Let’s turn our self-criticism into a force for good. Let’s celebrate our achievements, no matter how small, and treat every misstep as a chance to learn. Let’s lift each other up, foster a positive riding environment, and remember why we fell in love with horse riding in the first place.
After all, equestrianism isn’t just a sport—it’s a partnership, a dance, and above all, a joy.