I have always enjoyed competing with my horses. Not because of the money (let's face it, there isn't much), or the prestige, but for the love of a good challenge. Some of the best advice I had ever received was that your number one competitor in the ring is Y.O.U.
I have adapted this mentality into my training. My goal, as well as everyone's goal, should be to make this ride better than my last ride. Horsemanship is not an accomplishment, it is a journey that will never be finished until the Good Lord calls us to our heavenly home.
A Reason to Ride
In 2019 the Lord blessed us with an indoor riding arena. I had been waiting for over 20 years and it has been absolutely worth the wait. Yet this winter, which has been mild for the most part, I find myself finding lots of reasons to not ride. Until I stumbled across an Online Ranch Horse Competition.
Through the support of my collogue, Sheri Dill-Billings, and my wonderful husband, I have decided to enter. The deadline to submit a video of my ride is this coming Sunday. I am looking forward to it, and hesitant all at the same time. But there is one thing I did not expect....it gave me a reason to ride. It gave me motivation to go out and get on my horse. To work towards a goal.
The first thing I did was ride the pattern. "Why? You always tell me to never practice the pattern." To find the holes in my horse. I found several. So back to the basics I go. My first step is to get my horse soft in the bridle again. She has been ridden by several students last year as I did not have time to ride her as I was riding my 3 year old filly. But now I have purpose. I will let you all know how it turns out.
A Rise to the Challenge
Now, to pass the baton to my fellow horsemen. This year Sheri and I are putting together a challenge of our own. We are calling it the Southeast Iowa Working Horse Challenge. It will be a competition to give you a reason to ride and improve. I can't tell you the number of times I got to a competition or show with the mind of "we got this, we have been working hard and we will come out on top." Then low and behold, I go look at the patterns for my classes and my first thought is, "I didn't even know that could be ask of a horse!" Then I watch the competitors before me and see how they have it down good and realize how important it is for me to go to these competitions. Not to win, but to be challenged. To be able to go home and know I have more to work on.
So we will be setting a challenge before you this year. We will offer you a chance to see where you need to work and give you a reason to ride every day. We don't offer it to humiliate you, but to encourage you. To let you know that you can always be better. Don't think of yourself as a failure or unworthy to be there, but rather at a different place than others, or maybe you are just beginning your journey as a horseman. Either way, we are inviting you to come with fellow like minded horsemen who are there to support you and "spur you on" to be better. Sure we may compete in the ring for the prize, but outside the ring we are all there to cheer you on as you are on your journey.
"I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Paul in Philippians 3:10-14