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Struggles of Adulthood

So I started writing my post-show recap and realized I needed to write a post about one single moment, before I get to the good stuff. I’m going to be honest and preface this post by saying: you really don’t have to read it; it might be long and boring and short on pictures — but I need to write this for myself.

We schooled Friday afternoon, and as predicted, Vinnie was uncooperative. He was up, looking at everything and not paying one ounce of attention to any request I made. Right then and there, I almost called it quits. I’m so sick of this attitude. If it’s not fun, why do it?

I remember horse shows being loads of fun, and parts of it still are. I love hanging out with friends all day, eating good food and watching pretty horses go around; and all of those things still happen and I still love it. But what I loved most about horse shows was winning. I miss being good; I miss being competitive. I know, it was just 4-H, and honestly, I’m not trying to make it sound like I won the Maclay or the Congress, but I’m a competitive person. I’m so competitive I couldn’t stand to play softball in high school because the other players didn’t try as hard as I did. And now horse shows do not fill that void for me anymore.

So where does that leave me? The thought of not showing anymore makes me kind of nauseous — I don’t really think that’s what I want. Maybe I need a break?

Let’s take stock of what is holding me back from being more competitive:

  • Strength: I need more strength in my thighs and core.
  • Endurance: Only riding twice a week isn’t enough — but part of that is my fault. I need to ride for more than 20-30 minutes during my hacks.
  • Hunching: I need to stretch up (and not hunch over), even when I’m half-halting with all my might.
  • Flowing over Fences: I need to fold my hip angle more and not perch or pose over the fence.
  • No lead changes: Vinnie does not, and will never, have a lead change.

All of these things are fixable (except for the last one). I can ride for longer intervals, focusing on exercises to help my strength and quit hunching. I can practice more jumps and work on flowing over each fence.

All in all, I think I need to remember that I’ve changed and that horse showing is different for me now than it was when I was 16. I no longer think I’m immortal, I’m the one that pays all the bills and I’m the one shouldering all of the responsibility. But does that mean I don’t enjoy it anymore?

What do you think? Has showing changed at all for you as you’ve gotten older? 

Tracy

Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

7 thoughts to “Struggles of Adulthood”

  1. You and I are very similar. I had a lot of success with my QH in college when I did open and schooling shows. Even if it wasn’t the McClay, winning a class of 8+ was very thrilling to me. Now, I’m striving to win in a MUCH more competitive space… but time will tell if it’s fun or not. I really don’t know yet. I would say that if you aren’t enjoying showing then you need to change something, because if you’re anything like me taking a break/not showing takes a lot out of riding for me. I need a goal.

    Consider a different horse to lease, go horse shopping, beef up your riding time – do what you need to do to raise it up a notch. I hope you had a good show nonetheless!

    1. Thanks for the support — I’ve already been (very slowly) looking for other options to ride, but I think you’re right. It’s time for another horse that will allow me to ride more and be more competitive 🙂

  2. You aren’t alone!

    My time at the barn is so limited and almost rushed every time. I am running from work to the barn and then running home to get to my hubby and daughter. Some days it isn’t fun, some days it’s awesome! Ups and downs for sure!

    Being an adult ammy, I have to work with what I can afford- not much. I got a green horse and have had to take lessons and put the time into me horse. I can’t buy something made and ready to show. The miles have to be put on my horse and he didn’t come ready to rock and roll. I look at it like in 5 years he will be good as gold and I will be accomplished (along with my trainers help). I may not win all the classes but I will have way more in my “tool belt” then some other riders… I will have a relationship that is different then some other riders…

    It’s hared work to have to really work at something but think how awesome it will be when your work pays off! 🙂

    1. I agree — and I think part of what I miss is the feeling you get when you AND your horse accomplish something together… even if most of the world doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

  3. I never showed as a kid. I started endurance racing in my early twenties which was my first experience at “showing.” I transitioned to dressage just three years ago and have spent the last three years eating humble pie. At first, we sucked because I didn’t know anything. To make it worse, I sucked against kids as I was showing intro only. Eventually, we moved to training level where we still mostly suck. At least now I tend to suck against other adults so it’s somewhat less humiliating.

    I know we are getting better, but I don’t think we’ll ever be as good as the riders who have shown all their lives. It seems as though there is always someone better: they have a better horse; they’ve been riding and showing since childhood; they’re way more experienced AND have a better horse. I just can’t win.

    For now, I hate it, but it’s still fun to get out there and see if I can score a little better than last time around. I think dressage has an advantage in that I get an actual score to look at. My hunter friends tell me they’re just compared to the other riders so while you might be way better than last week, you could still finish last. That would be hard to take.

    I am trying really hard to only focus on what I am doing. I am TRYING to ignore the successes of the ladies around me. Yes, they’re scoring well and moving up the levels faster than I am. Okay. Sucks, doesn’t it. My choice is to quit or keeping going. I want to show so I need to just focus on my horse and my riding. The choice is ours to make. :0)

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Sometimes it’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one. I show in a division against a bunch of kids right now, and while I don’t expect to beat them, it is kind of embarrassing to lose to them all the time.

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