Positivity for 2024

It’s easy to get bogged down with negativity in this industry. Find your community, and don't compare yourself to others.

It’s easy to get bogged down with negativity in this industry. You try to compare yourself to riders who can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single horse to compete at an elite level of competition. Or find yourself envious of riders who have unlimited access to trainers you dream of working with.

Or maybe it’s the negative thoughts that float through your head when you see other people ride and enjoy their horse while yours is sitting on never-ending stall rest. Leaving you wondering if you’re ever going to even make it into a show pen.

Last year it was easy for me to get dragged down by negativity. I questioned my ability as a horse owner when my horse ended up needing colic surgery: Where did I go wrong? Did I miss something? What could I have done differently? Why did this happen to my horse? But as I found myself crawling into a hole of negativity and self-doubt, my community of barn friends were there to drag me back out.

Having a support group of like-minded riders to call friends is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed in this industry. Photo courtesy of Nichole Chirico

Find Your Support Group

If you’re new to the horse industry, or just feeling overwhelmed, the first thing I recommend doing is finding a support team. I’m lucky enough that the barn I keep my horse at has several riders who are similar in age as me and enjoy doing so many horse-related activities together.

We take trips to Las Vegas to watch The Run For A Million, haul horses to local open shows to have fun and cheer each other on as we try new events, and we also attend clinics together.

When my horse was in surgery both times, they were by my side, supporting me every step of the way. And when they have had emergency vet calls and I was at the barn, I stayed with them until we were sure everything was going to be all right.

Being in this industry can be tough. But having people you can rely on makes it so much easier. Even when things don’t go according to plan. This support group can be in the form of your fellow barn mates (if you keep your horse at a boarding barn or in full-time training with a professional), or people you frequently carpool (or trailer-pool) with to events, but it can also be people you meet on the trail or at horse shows.

Maybe it’s even people you’ve connected with over Facebook in groups where like-minded riders can get together to bond over their love of horses or certain disciplines.

Say No to Negativity

It’s easy to try and compare yourself to what other people are doing. As a kid, I competed at a national level, but as an adult I don’t have the funds to be able to do that. Riders I was once traveling the Quarter Horse circuit with continued to go to show after show and win major award after major award. For a while, I let it affect me negatively. If I couldn’t show at that level anymore, then what was the point in trying to compete?

I look back now and laugh at that thought, because I realize how ridiculous it was to think like that. While I love being able to attend large horse shows and would love the chance to be able to compete at that level again one day, I realize I love working with young horses even more.

Had I let those negative thoughts continue to take up space in my head, I would have never realized how much I enjoy working with young horses and helping them learn the fundamentals they need to go on to do events like reining or reined cow horse.

It’s easy to try and compare yourself to other people in your horse circles or be envious of those who have the opportunity to ride at the level they do, but at the end of the day we should all be focusing on our own rides and our own journeys! Don’t let what other people are doing keep you from enjoying every second in the saddle.

[Saddle Up With a Growth Mindset]

The Year of Positivity

Last year was not great for me. And for the most part, I spent a majority of the year in a negative headspace. But this year I’ve made it a point to focus on all the positive things that surround me each day.

Instead of dreading the what-ifs and worrying about what might happen in the future, I’m going to focus on being grateful for the things I currently have in my life, which are my friends, my family, my barn support group, and having a horse that I’m back to riding and enjoying spending time with after two life-threatening colic surgeries that left her with a 50% chance of making it past five days.

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