When the green eyed monster starts creeping in, it is important to take a step back and ask yourself, why do I envy this person so much? Photo © Kesey Keathly

Seven Tips on Overcoming Horse Show Envy

An exhibitor comes out of the show ring disappointed. They complain, “She only won because she trains with XYZ trainer, has an expensive horse, and was wearing an expensive jacket.”

Have you heard this before? Have you been this person? At every horse show, everywhere in the world, many exhibitors struggle with show ring envy. It is easier to look at someone who is winning and blame their success on the glitz, glam, and big name trainer. But underneath it all, they paid the same entry fee as you. You both deserve to be there, and you both have just as much of a chance at the win.

When the green eyed monster starts creeping in, it is important to take a step back and ask yourself, why do I envy this person so much? Furthermore, how do I stop? Envy clouds our vision and keeps us from being the best possible showmen we can be.
Here are a few tips for avoiding envy in the show pen:

1.Remember, they’re still human

Before you start to covet the life your competitor appears to live, take a step back and remember that they, like you, are merely human. We all put our chaps on one leg at a time. Everyone has a different story. While their story may appear more glamorous than yours on the outside, you never truly know what goes on under the surface until you walk a mile in their square toed boots.

2. Realize that everyone starts somewhere

Everyone has those cringy “back before I knew better” pictures hidden somewhere in a photo album. There’s no shame in these, we all start somewhere. Along the way, we pick up the tools to reach our goals. Some competitors are just further along on this journey. You must walk before you can lope.

3. Turn envy into motivation
What is it that your competitors have that you want? Not the material things like tack, ribbons, and expensive clothes. Is it their position? Their horse’s movement? Their poise? Rather than saying “I wish,” start saying “I will.” Set goals to up your game rather than making excuses. Push yourself a little harder, take an extra lesson, ride without stirrups. The winners don’t just win because they’re lucky, they win because they work hard. To be one of them, you have to work hard, too.

4. Realize that you shouldn’t worry about what you can’t change
Do you envy your competitors financial situation? Their body type? Their horse? Some things you can change, such as your work ethic. However, some things you cannot. If you know for a fact that you can’t be 5 inches taller, have a $250,000 horse, or haul to all of the major shows, why stress over it? Rather than wasting energy focusing on the things you can’t change, focus on the things you can. This new direction is when you’ll find success.

5. Recognize that there may be someone out there who envies to you
Just as you envy your competitors, chances are, there’s someone out there who envies you. Don’t get so caught in someone else’s shadow that you forget to turn around and look at your own. Be the rider they want you to be; motivated, kind, and poised. Be a good example for those who are just stepping up to a new level of competition or to the young kid that always claps when you win. They’re the future of this industry. You can make an impact.

6. Befriend them
The greatest part about horse showing is that we all are here for a similar reason. We all love spending time in the show pen with our horses and reaching our goals. Rather than being spiteful towards those who have more than us or consistently win, befriend them. You may not become their best friend, but get to know them on a more personal level. After all, if you’re going to come in second to anyone, it might as well be your friend.

7. Compete against yourself instead
Life is better when your goals become about yourself and your horse, rather than making your goal for a class to be “I want to beat so-and-so,” focus on bettering yourself. When you turn your attention to yourself, you will realize strengths and weaknesses. You’ll learn how to make those strengths shine, and how to counteract your weaknesses, to become the best rider you can be. Ultimately, horse showing is not about who you beat. No one will remember that in the long run. What matters, and what will last through time, are strides you take toward personal growth.


Expensive jackets will wear thin, fancy horses will retire, and high point awards will tarnish. What will last are the memories we make. It is your choice to make them positive memories of growth and friendship, or negative memories of envy and spite.

About the Author: GoHorseShow writer, Kelsey Keathly, is a graduate of Cazenovia College with a degree in equine business management. She spends her time running her graphic design business (Norfleet Marketing), writing, showing her gelding Investers Norfleet at APHA shows, and practicing her photography.

Photos @ Kelsey Keathly