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Why It Is All Worth It In The End

Why It Is All Worth It In The End

I have been showjumping since I was eleven years old. My first showjumping pony was a 14hh, 12-year-old mare who Mum bought for me sight unseen for $500. Since then I have slowly but surely learnt the ropes of showjumping and experienced many highs and lows in the sport.

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By Amanda Wilson | Tuesday, 18 December 2018

I have faced the nasty rumours, I have faced the poorly ridden and extremely disappointing rounds, I have experienced the people on the sidelines telling me I am just a flash in the pan, that my time in the ring is up. There have been too many mistakes to count, too many courses forgotten, fences ridden terribly, far too much crying (less of it now), thoughts of giving up and so much more. This sport is tough.


The reason I am writing this article is that despite every crappy situation, every cutting rumour on the sideline, every shocking ride I give my horses, to me it is all worth it and some. Some days are tougher than others, I still question what I am doing more times than I can count. The fear of not being good enough was a constant issue growing up. And the greatest fear I think for most riders, is what other people say behind our backs. The judgement, the rumours, the put-downs. I've been through it all, have experienced plenty of it yet I can say that it is still all worth it. 



It is worth it for two big reasons. The first is the horses that we share this sport with. If you find something you love that much you should hold onto it as fiercely as you can. It doesn't matter if you just trek for the rest of your days or you showjump at top level. If horses fill that soul of yours than hold tight. Don't let what other people say kill that passion for you and don't let the fear of not being good enough hold you back. We don't have to be the best to deserve a horses love and we certainly do not have to be the best just to keep the hater's mouths shut. People will always talk and trust me when I say rumours will always circulate, people will always have an opinion on the things you do. Just show up, smile and the best cure of all, be extra friendly with those ones. I've taken a lot of enjoyment over the years of purposely starting up friendly conversations with people who don't like me, just to see them squirm. And the funniest thing is that those people are actually quite lovely when you get to know them.


I guess because I have been studying sports psychology (and general psychology) for the last few years I have a much better understanding of why people behave the way they do and so by being friendly and showing interest in what someone is doing and most of all showing support, I find there are not very many scary people in the sport after all. In fact aside from the odd person who is a crazy maker, almost all of the people in the sport are actually very cool people. I wouldn't have said that a few years ago.


This sport is bloody tough and we in New Zealand still have a long way to go before we catch up with the rest of the world. That is why I think it is SO important to be the sort of person who encourages and supports every rider, who thanks judges and sponsors and volunteers, who gives a warm smile at the show office and says well done to the rider who just bet you (and mean it!). I try to do this and I do it genuinely because it is my belief that if I can't beat the very best riders in the country than it is because I am not good enough and so they inspire me to be better. I don't want to pull them back to my level, I want to have them motivate me up to their level. That's what we all need to start doing.


Photo by EQ Equestrian


I have encountered so much unnecessary ridicule over the years between competitors and supporters and it is so ridiculous. This sport is such a great sport and the bullying and the judgement is such an unfortunate aspect that sees too many riders leave the sport far too early.


The other reason this sport is SO has been so worth it for me is because of how much I have grown as a person. I wasn't a particularly motivated or hard-working kid when I was younger and I didn't aspire to be much but showjumping and the responsibility of owning and caring for horses means that you can't just sit on your bum and expect things to happen. You have to put in the work and most of all, to be successful, you have to always be open to learning. That can be hard for so many people because to admit you don't know what you are doing can be very vulnerable. But I'll say it now, half of the time I am totally winging it. I just string stuff along and hope for the best and when it doesn't go to plan I try something else. Every single round I have ridden in for the last decade, I have been experimenting with new rides. EVERY single class. I am always looking for the extra something to take me to the next level. And I am always asking the best riders and the vets and the farriers why they do things they way they do because I want to learn as much as I can.


My definition of success is just progression. I want to be a better rider, a better horsewoman, a better person than I was yesterday. I might not make it to the Olympics but hopefully, in thirty years I will be a much better version of myself than today. That's what I strive for.







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