I have never had a good relationship with horse shows.
Hastily packing everything with a deep fear of forgetting my pants, trailering my beloved horse and white-knuckling it the whole drive, or getting physically sick in a Porta-Potty the entire weekend, I despised all of it.
Even at my very first show at age eight I fell off!
I’ve always put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to get the scores that I needed to achieve a specific goal, which often led to my own self-sabotage.
Three years ago, I brought Roman, my personal horse that I have raised and trained from a wild nine-month-old, to a show and it was a complete disaster. I fell off. Twice!
I was humiliated. Devastated. A failure.
I felt like my horse didn’t trust me or “love” me, somehow. I thought everyone was laughing at me, that I was a phony and didn’t deserve to be a professional horse trainer. I hated myself.
This all may come as a surprise if you have met me in person. A lot of people comment on how cheerful and pragmatic I am, but most often, it’s the people that appear to be the strongest that need the most help.
This led me down a path of low self-esteem and pessimism, which doubled in to depression and PTSD after a near-death experience last year. But it also brought me to the decision to make a change in my life and not just with my relationship with horse shows.
Since making that choice, I have tried new things, met new people, learned from different mentors and have trained myself to have a new outlook on my life. It’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and I’m only just getting started.
At the beginning of 2018, I set some specific goals and mapped out how I was going to achieve them. I wanted so desperately to redo my experience at that awful competition with Roman. Same venue, same test. I wanted him to trust me, to be confident and prove to myself that I WAS in fact, worth a damn!
So, here I am. A brand new me in a repaired relationship with my horse and, more importantly, myself. I don’t have failures anymore, I just have times where I am gathering information.
For the first time in my life, I actually had FUN at the horse show! I felt like I had the tools to calm the squirrels in my head, to be a steadfast leader for my horse. Roman and I received our highest score ever at a recognized show and I feel proud of him and myself too!
The truth is, everyone is living their own personal journey with their own insecurities and struggles. Even professionals. Even our horses.
Surround yourself with a supportive tribe and knowledgeable teachers and speak kindly to yourself. Couple that with hard work and the willingness to not only reach but spend some serious time outside of your comfort zone and you have a recipe for success.
This post originally appeared on Deanna Corby’s Facebook page and is re-published here with permission.
About the Author
Deanna Corby is a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Bronze Medalist and ‘L’ Graduate with Distinction. Based in South Carolina, she works as a dressage trainer, instructor and competition judge. To learn more about Deanna, visit her website and educational YouTube channel.