So much of my life I have had laser focus driving me towards specific goals. These goals have been as a rider, as a professional, as a business owner and goals to work toward just becoming a good human being. We all know that life doesn’t always necessarily go as planned. For very goal oriented individuals, like myself, sometimes setbacks, or the idea of how things could have or should have been, can be unnerving, derailing, and downright depressing.
In the past year, particularly the past few months, I have been working on my ability to surrender. Ambition is a glorious thing, but to the ambitious, taking action is second nature. Surrender is against some very core beliefs of who I am. Because of this, it has been a difficult practice and therefore has helped me grow as an individual, a mother, a wife, a horse trainer and a business owner.
Surrender is of the utmost importance to growth as a human being and as a rider. The more I practice the art of surrendering to how life is, the more I think this is the same thread that will keep the horse industry together as a whole, if we all hone in on it. You see surrender is not the lack of action. That is what I misunderstood at first. Surrender is when you stop worrying yourself about where you thought you would be in life. Surrender is when you stop imagining what kind of rider you thought you would be, or what level you would be competing on. Surrender is when you get rid of the anxiety that comes with comparing your success, or lack thereof, to others successes.
Get rid of all those worries, all those fears, all the anticipated timelines for you, or your horse, to be decorated champions. Once you remove all those things your mind can be open, your mind can be clear. Once you find clarity, you can start to learn to be satisfied with the journey you are on. You can learn to be grateful for it, and in turn, you can begin to open your mind to new ideas, new techniques and new growth.
Lack of surrender in riding leads to pushing horses too fast. It leads to forcing horses into jobs they aren’t capable of. Things like trying to make a wonderful Western prospect a successful Park horse. In reality if you surrendered to what you have, you may find satisfaction in having the best Western horse in the nation, rather than a very unhappy Park horse. Surrender helps you focus on your own stage of riding, instead of constantly making comparisons to those who you perceive to be ahead of you. Comparison can be the thief of all joy.
If we all find this surrender in riding and in life, I feel like we could better learn to work together. Our industry would feel more supportive and welcoming. Imagine if all trainers and riders could surrender to their own reality? Imagine everyone being able to cheer for their competitors and be supportive of each other? The act of surrender keeps us from feeling slighted by not accomplishing what our competitors have, or even what our fellow barn mates have.
Surrender doesn’t mean stop moving forward. Surrender means throwing away anxiety and worry, working towards your own goals with clarity. It means having faith in yourself, your trainer, your horse and your team. Having the faith that regardless of what lies ahead, your struggles will lead to your ultimate growth. It means surrendering to the fact that maybe your horse won’t bring you show ring accolades, but that it has made you one heck of a rider. It means having the faith that the powers that be, know your goals and someday the right horse, trainer or opportunity will present itself to you. It will present itself, as long as you keep going.
The hard lessons, the lamenesses, the falls, the wrong horse, the crazy horse… Just Surrender! Surrender to the fact that you haven’t shown at Louisville yet, surrender to the fact your horse threw you, surrender to the sore legs, blistered fingers and run your own race. Surrender to working together towards what you will be, instead of what you thought you would be. I think if we could individually accomplish this; keep our drive, keep our tenacity and gain the ability to surrender we would all find gratitude and success in our life and our riding careers.