There are all sorts of sayings about how your circle can influence your ability to reach your goals.
“Sit with the winners. The conversation is different.”
“Be friends with a millionaire so you can be the next one.”
“Your tribe affects your vibe.”
All of these sayings are true in your horse life, too, whether you’re a seasoned competitor or more of a recreational rider.
“For me, having a positive community around me and in my barn is very important,” shares NRHA Professional Billy Williams who trains reining horses and coaches nonpro riders in Aubrey, Texas. Here, he’ll share the core pieces of your circle and how they can help you succeed.
Family and Friends in Your Circle
“My community starts with my wife,” Williams shares. “She’s a big motivator for me, but she’s also very real with me—sometimes brutally so! She’s a very positive person, and having her behind me, pushing me to keep trying to get better, and understanding my goals, is very important.”
Identify someone in your family who serves as a positive influence on your horse life—your spouse, a sibling, or another relative or very close friend. This person could know you better than anyone else simply from living a lifetime together or having a close relationship with you. The key is, that when you’re with these people, they leave you feeling fulfilled, motivated, uplifted, and ready instead of negative, drained, and exhausted.
Mentors Past and Present
“I worked for Bob Avila when I first started out training horses professionally,” Williams says. “I still talk to him. It’s mostly about business, but it’s invaluable insight for me as a professional. My wife and I also rely on Casey and Kathy Hinton for insights on how they run their businesses. Being able to learn from successful, reputable people is an incredible opportunity.”
Who you choose as your mentor—whether a competitive trainer, a seasoned clinician or a friend who’s spent more time in the saddle than you have—that person’s perspective will rub off on you. Choose carefully! Align yourself with someone whose reputation matches your values, who lifts you up but also gives you a tough talk when you need it, and who offers you expertise at your current level and the ones you aspire to reach.
Peers and Riding Buddies
“I keep in touch with a bunch of pros who I came up the ranks with,” Williams explains. “We knew each other when we were struggling, and we know each other even better now as we become more established professionals. We’re all starting to figure things out in our businesses and with our horses, and we help each other get to where we want to be by calling when we’re having trouble with a horse or another situation.”
These members of your circle are with you on rides on the trail or schooling and watching in the arena when you compete. They fully empathize with your hurdles and understand what goes into your successes. This is because they live your horse life with you. They also can be your source of humor and levity when things get tough and put you in your place if your ego ever gets a little too big.
“I’d definitely agree that these are the people who keep me humble and bring me back to center,” Williams says. “They help reel you back in and are probably the ones who see you when it’s the next horse you ride who really makes you humble again.”
Size Doesn’t Matter
Your circle might be four people or 14. It really doesn’t matter, as long as they’re right for your situation and help you be your best.
“Be selective about who surrounds you,” Williams advises. “Find people who complement you and genuinely care, and who you feel the same way about.”