Competitive Heart

 I once knew a horse who loved to compete.  You could ride him in the warm up pen for hours, but when he entered the show pen, he was a different horse.  He loved the run in patterns best.  I think it was because he could make a big entrance and wow the judges with a huge stop.
         I loved to cheer for him.  I would chuckle as he stood before the gate with his eyes half closed.  He was just waiting, confident that today he would get applause, today the judges would love him, today he would win.  It was so much fun to watch the judges sit up in their chair when he came in.  Here was a horse who wanted to compete, here was a horse who tried hard, here was a horse with heart.
         What is a competitive heart? When looking at horses, can you see it? A competitive heart is hard to define, but easy to spot.  Horses with heart come in all shapes and sizes, but they are the ones that people remember.  They are the ones who overcame odds, who tried the hardest, who never doubted - even when their rider did.  Secretariat, Sea Biscuit, the Black Stallion, and now War Horse; our stories are filled with tales of heart. A horse with heart draws an audience.

Riding a horse with a competitive heart, on the other hand, isn’t as easy as it would seem.  These horses will run until they’re hurt, will give too much, and end up broken.  Their desire to win is greater than the pain they feel.  
Not trying hard enough is equally dangerous.  Holding back a competitive horse by not showing seriously, by showing tentatively, or by making mistakes too often can frustrate the horse.  He will express his frustration in a variety of ways, many of them destructive in the show pen.
"The rider must know when to guide and when to ride."
         A competitive heart requires a bold rider.  The rider must know when to guide and when to ride.  There has to be a trust relationship between the rider and the horse. The rider has to be definite in his actions, and confident. The confidence is important, because the rider has to trust the horse. When it is time to compete, the rider's role is to guide the horse through the maneuvers, and let the horse do the showing.
If you have ever had the opportunity to ride one of these special horses, you understand what I'm talking about. Horses with heart will change you, they will challenge you to be better. They ask us to rise up to their level, to trust their desire, and to be their partner in the win.

What is your story about an extraordinary horse?

No comments:

Post a Comment