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What is your attitude on winning?

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  • What is your attitude on winning?

    A big horse show going on in our Morgan world this weekend. I skipped it because I feel I'm not ready yet and because the costs for camping were outrageous. That said:

    A friend who is there watching told me last night "you could have SO won the AOTS". She's big into winning. Me? Not so much.

    Don't get me wrong, I want to have a winning ride; one that I'm proud of but I don't care if it wins the class or not. There was only one other horse in the AOTS and sure, I probably could have won it on type and confirmation alone then add in a nice performance. But, is that really a win? I've sort of given up trying to explain how I feel. She pays a trainer to ride her horse and win...something I could never do even if I never place again.

    I know most of the competitors here would prefer to meet their own personal level of performance. But given that, how important is it that you place high or win a class?
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    Winning is relative to what you want to acomplish with your horses and stables. People like to buy winners. This is a sport that does have elements of narcissism. However, without getting into specifics, you can win in the ring and lose in the training scale. So, winning is relative.


    • #3
      Winning beats losing.

      I would have no problem going in a higher level class with light entries vice a lower class with heavy entries. Reality is I probably won't win either one, but I'd rather bring home a yellow ribbon and a small check than a brown ribbon and nothing. It costs me the same to go either way.

      In my discipline half of the horses in the lower level classes should be in a higher level, but they want any easy win by outclassing the competition. Which makes no sense since the entries are light where they should be. So if I take my crappy horse in the class for nice horses and the nice horses show in the classes for crap horses, it all evens out.
      Visit my Spoonflower shop


      • #4
        I like to ride really well. I do all I can to ensure my horse is enjoying the work, too. I do dressage so my scores matter to me- not so much how I 'did' relative to others. If I win, well, that's icing but the real concern for me is my ride and my scores. Not the scores of other riders.

        In rail classes it's hard sometimes b/c you just WANT to be called, but hey- if better rides happen, then learn to get better and be that better rider. Next time


        • #5
          Depends on what kind of competition you are talking about.

          If you train race horses, well, the idea is to try to win or at least place so it can earn enough to keep running.

          If you train and ride for a team, at whatever level clear to the World Championships and Olympics, you are trying to win and for that, you and your horse and your whole team has to go above and beyond to win, that is the goal there.

          If you are a trainer bringing up a promising horse, or retraining one with issues, you show as a way to get your horse out there, to see how you are doing against the competition, to get more miles on the horse and winning is secondary to getting the horse to perform as a learning or retraining experience.

          I found out while showing jumpers that I didn't have the competitive drive to ask 110% out of a horse, so if a horse was really jumping very well and the class was important, I rather someone else push it to the limit, because I just was coming up short there, am not an aggressive enough rider for that.

          When we were training and retraining, if a horse gave someone problems, they would tell them if they didn't get the horse going well, they would give it to me, because I could get any one horse cooperate.
          Somehow, once the horse is performing very well, to ask that extra of one just didn't seem to be in my make-up and that is what makes winners in top competition.

          One example, I was riding a horse that had been world champion and we went around a Nations Cup course smooth as glass.
          If I had to do that for a long season and keep asking the horse to do that, even when tired, even when the ground is questionable, when it is feeling off, in all places, as that you have to do when at the top, I didn't seem to have that drive.
          As one BNT told me, you can't always be "nice" if you want to be competitive.
          You have to ask the utmost of your horse when it is necessary, when it counts, trying for the best you can do and beyond is the name of the game, is what wins.

          You can see, that is a good question, but it doesn't has that clear an answer, at least not without saying "it depends on the circumstances" you are competing.


          • Original Poster

            I can see how fuzzy my question is. I'm not in it for any kind of promotion or money. Not promoting me or my barn, not selling my horse or any others. But neither is my friend. We're amateurs, me in the back yard and she at her trainer's. She is capable of riding and showing herself and has done it.

            I've won driven dressage classes and scored really high. My reaction SOMETIMES has been: Gosh, she was easy to please. I'm far more critical of my performance than most judges.

            We'll see in mid-June. Going to my first show this year and going to try and not throw up in the make up ring. ;-)
            Ride like you mean it.


            • #7
              I don't know anybody who doesn't like winning regardless of what the competition is. I personally am not in to competition in and of itself anymore. I trained race horses for over 20 years so another ribbon doesn't get me real excited. My favorite things to do on horse back are hunter paces and cross country school. Hunter paces are just a really fun trail ride with friends and cross country schooling is fun because you can skip any jumps you don't like and jump any jumps you do like as many times as you like. That said, my filly is showing at Devon on Thursday and I would be lying if I said I didn't want her to win! She is my last foal from my homebred race mare so there would be a lot of pride in her doing well there again this year.
              McDowell Racing Stables

              Home Away From Home


              • Original Poster

                Best of luck to you and your filly. I don't discount the emotional satisfaction you'll get from a win there! Big big deal, that!
                Ride like you mean it.


                • #9
                  I don't necessarily have to be FIRST, but if I'm constantly out of the money I begin to question why I'm wasting my time and money on whatever the activity is. I think that's why I don't especially have any motivation to show horses as while I have no problem demanding a performance out of them or else, there are too many variables involved that where the horse can't help it. If a horse is lame or even just sore, he IS. He spooks, he spooks. The judge doesn't like horses that color, it rained and he hates the mud...I'm not into going and blowing a ton of effort for the "experience". Why I'd never bother with rateds unless I had a fast jumper as I don't have the money and politiks to play in the hunters and would just be wasting my time. So as far as horses go I'll stick with racing, where it's about how well I can read a form (and where I've still done better than in the lottery so far) and if I owned, about a horse making a living, not necessarily winning (fun as that would be) and if they don't hack it, let the trainer drop them until they can or get claimed. If you scratch, it's just a business decision and there's another day (clearly I don't envisage being an owner of G1 horses!)
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                  • #10
                    Yeah, I don't know about ribbons. Getting a first when it was me, a re rider new to the discipline but not new to riding and an older teen just learning to ride, well, what's the point? $100 for a class and a 60 cent ribbon. And the poor other girl really wasn't a good enough rider to be showing, I worried about her and made sure to keep out of her way the whole trip - could never figure out why her trainer had her there - except of course for the money.
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible


                    • #11
                      Oh I like to win; I especially love to win a big class. lol. But I have entered a few classes (Morgan Hunter Pleasure) that knowing the current juding preferences and competition I am fairly certain that I had no chance of winning, but I entered them regardless because it was FUN. I am a hard cored dressage rider/competitor and if you compete in dressage, you know it takes a huge concentration to ride a good dressage test - mentally exhausting not to mention physically demanding - so the Hunter Pleasure classes are true fun classes to me. My dressage pony loves to stretch his legs and he makes me giggle the whole trip. I even got plenty of chances to survey the scenery and winking at my husband while making the trip, lol.


                      • #12
                        I'm in favor of it. Winning, that is.
                        however, when you go to a competition, you should set some other, more concrete goal that is actually under your control- nail all the distances, or make it round in a certain time, or get that lead change you've been working so hard on. If you meet your goal, that is better than winning. Sometimes you don't win because other people/horses are better than you, or due to bad luck. Sometimes you win due to the other people having problems/bad luck, and if your own ride was sucky those wins just don't feel as good. You can't control winning, but you can control other things.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wendy View Post
                          I'm in favor of it. Winning, that is.
                          however, when you go to a competition, you should set some other, more concrete goal that is actually under your control- nail all the distances, or make it round in a certain time, or get that lead change you've been working so hard on. If you meet your goal, that is better than winning. Sometimes you don't win because other people/horses are better than you, or due to bad luck. Sometimes you win due to the other people having problems/bad luck, and if your own ride was sucky those wins just don't feel as good. You can't control winning, but you can control other things.
                          Like this thought.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible


                          • #14
                            I used to love winning when I was a teen. Then I got Herself and I had all these plans and goals for us. She's such a quality girl and why SHOULDN'T I have an easy time cleaning up at all the shows?

                            She's taught me that it's more than that, and at this point if we never step foot in the show ring, I'm okay with that. We went from polar opposites, not sure if this is ever going to work, how am I going to get hurt today, leave me alone snarky mare to meeting me at the gate with a whicker, happily following me around, allowing me to do whatever I need, and feeling like she really is 'my' girl. That transformation feels so much better than any $.60 ribbon that I have hanging up in my house.


                            • #15
                              I like it!
                              That said, I set my goals to 'improve' something. If my horse shows improvement in some area at the next show....then I was successful, and I set a new ...small...goal. I ride dressge so as far as I'm concerned, I'm riding against myself each time out. I have no control over what other people do, only over what I do.


                              • #16
                                to me, Showing is about learning something and having fun. If you can't have fun, it's not for me. That said, i do not show. i am a pleasure rider.


                                • #17
                                  I enjoy winning as much as anyone else does. But I get the really high emotions from other goals or accomplishments that tend to go along with showing. I love dressage for many reasons, but one is because you don't really compete against other riders, you ride for your own personal scores. I find that helps keep my winning attitude in check: I feel like I won if I improved a 6 to a 8 on a movement.

                                  My two biggest wins to date are: 1. showing my very own horse in a recognized show and getting a 5th place at championships. I didn't have a trainer that whole summer! I was damn proud!
                                  2. Having a calm, safe, buck-free, stop-free, bolt-free test at my last show on someone else's 4 year old after a long season of all of the above, if we even made it out of the warm-up ring. There is something to be said for not dying!


                                  • #18
                                    I like getting out and getting the feedback at a show. I like the unspoken camaraderie, the preparation, etc. But I am no longer what one would call a "serious" competitor.

                                    For the project pony that we have, those ribbons add value to her...although everyone loves her so much I doubt I'll ever get to sell her. That's what happens when you find one of the good ones!!

                                    So I guess that was a mixed answer. I like winning because it means I have met the standard (in general). If I don't pin, then I use the feedback to determine where I may not have met it. I like to record my classes, so I can objectively see them later, and I've found often that judges like to give me feedback whether or not I do pin. I've never found a one of them too wrapped up into the politics or what have you - generally - though I assume that can happen.


                                    • #19
                                      I ride Dressage and my goals are score based, so the color of the ribbon is really irrelevant.

                                      Not that I complained when I was the only one in most of my classes last year. We hit a lot of personally-important goals, and it's nice to have a little cluster of blue ribbons hanging on my wall to remind me of that. Even if they were blue by default.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I love all the perspectives...I'm not alone.

                                        Even tho I ride in the pleasure ring...round and round one way, reverse and repeat...I think of my performance as a dressage test. Basically I compete against myself because I have no control over who else shows up for the class or what that particular judge likes or even who he or she owes favors too. Many times, I show against world champions from BNTs. I don't expect to beat them.

                                        I guess I've adjusted my attitude to suit the reality of it. Either go in for the fun of it and to test myself or don't go in. The ribbon is secondary to that.

                                        What I love about asking questions here is getting all your perspectives to think about. It really helps me to define MY thoughts. Thanks!
                                        Ride like you mean it.