A loss creates the perfect opportunity to recalibrate your performance, embrace it.
Welcome to December, a month of reflection on how the previous show season stacked up to the expectations we had set forth for it. A mix of victories and losses undoubtedly took place throughout the year. While it is important to cherish the wins for the moments of joy that they brought, it is equally important to embrace the losses for the lessons that they provided. Taking the time to realize these lessons and tighten up certain areas of performance will encourage growth for both yourself and your horse.
Reflect on the run
While we can wish for a season of nothing but unadulterated success, that is rarely the case. Losses give us a reason to push farther than we thought we were originally capable. When a loss occurs in the arena, wait until emotions have cleared, and then take an objective look at your performance. Look back at the film of your run and compare it to what the judge’s score sheets have to say. Upon closer review, you will usually be able to see what they saw and understand why you earned the marks that you did. You may find an area within your run that they liked better than you expected, as well as pinpoint areas that they agreed needed improvement. Focus on the maneuvers that need to be improved and get to work on making a plan to be better the next time you step into the arena.
Create a practice plan
Losses ignite a fire within that push us to get back into the practice pen and put in the work. They prevent us from becoming lackadaisical with our program and encourage us to set a higher standard for ourselves. Sit down with your trainer and ask them to help you come up with a plan for your upcoming rides that will help to improve the areas that your performance was lacking. Keep in mind that progress doesn’t happen overnight, so set forth a realistic practice regime that can solidify your improvement over time. This might mean coming out to the barn a few more times per week to get the extra reps in, or it could mean putting in time at the gym to allow you to physically rise to your new standard of excellence. If you can’t make it to the barn, never underestimate the power of visualization at home. Practice closing your eyes and envisioning the feeling of performing at a higher level.
Find an opportunity to test yourself
Once you have spent a reasonable amount of time practicing to improve your skill set, the next step is to get back into the arena to see if what you implemented was correct. Nothing compares to stepping back into the show pen to truly see how effective your practice plan was. However, if you can’t make it back into the show pen and need to do a self check, film yourself performing a pattern and give yourself only one try to get it right. This will add more pressure than the amount you would feel simply riding around and give you a closer idea as to how it would be if you were in the show pen.
Give yourself grace
If you find that the test results didn’t live up to your expectations, that is ok! Think of it as a victory in that you are getting closer to finding the solution to your problem. Great golfers aren’t praised for having perfect round after perfect round, they are considered great if they can have an incredible bounce back ability.
This means that when they completely butcher a shot, they are able to regain composure and get the ball back into play as quickly as possible. Remind yourself of this when you are working with your horse; you aren’t expected to be perfect, more than likely you will never have a perfect run. When things don’t go according to plan, be known for getting things back on track as quickly and smoothly as possible.
A winning season is great, and one that we all strive to achieve, however there are so many great things that come from a season of loss. Loss shouldn’t be avoided, it needs to be welcomed with open arms and a feeling of gratitude that allows you to envision better things on the horizon. A loss means there is more to be capable of. Your new journey becomes finding those possibilities within yourself and your horse and putting in the time to make them a reality.
By Lauren Crivelli