As the year comes to an end, now is the perfect time to let go of the past and look forward to the future with a fresh, grateful perspective. Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

Tips to Recover from a Disappointing Year

As the show season ends and the new year approaches, you can’t help but reflect on the past. When you do, you may realize that you haven’t had the best year. You’ve chugged along, grinding and pulling your way through and, although you’ve had some small victories, luck just wasn’t on your side.

Maybe your horse was injured and struggled to perform. Perhaps you were in transition between horses and never really hit your groove. Or, perhaps it just wasn’t “your year” for it all to come together.

We’ve all had less than stellar shows, but trying to recover from an entire year of not so great showings, feels more challenging to overcome. A whole year full of what only seems like downs with very few ups is tough for even the strongest of souls to take.

So how do you recover from a disappointing year? How do you pick yourself up after being down for what feels like so long?

We put together our list of tips to help you recover from a disappointing year.

1. Wallow…for a minute

Just a minute. While it is entirely natural to want to wallow in your sorrows and disappointment to make yourself feel a little better, it won’t help in the long run. Allow yourself a few minutes to have a pity party and get it out – cry, yell, get mad or sad. Then, get over it. Let go of any negative thoughts or feelings from the past year. We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it…there’s always another horse show and another opportunity to start fresh. Take a deep breath, wipe the slate clean and hug your horse. You’ll feel a lot better and will be off to the right start mentally to tackle the new year.

2. Make a list 

A great way to avoid the disappointing things that may have happened to you throughout the year is to make a list of all the things that went right. Maybe you achieved a personal best in a class you struggled with, or perhaps you set out to challenge yourself by riding a really green horse. Possibly, your win didn’t end with a trophy or getting your name called at the top of the placings, but some shining moments shouldn’t be forgotten. Taking a moment to be proud of the goals (no matter how small) you accomplished and make a list of the things that did go your way, is an excellent exercise in putting things into perspective (see tip number 3) and getting back on track.

3. Get some perspective

Ask yourself, “Was your year that disappointing?” The best thing about showing horses is all the positivity that it brings to your life. From meeting new horse show friends to challenging yourself to reach for new goals, the sheer fact that you can throw your leg over a horse’s back is a privilege in itself and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Of course, we are all competitive and want to do well, but bringing some perspective to what is essential should slowly make any disappointments you have, slip away.

4. Redefine success

Perhaps it was your definition of success that wasn’t correct, not necessarily the fact that you didn’t achieve it. Coming up on a new year, take a look at the goals you’ve set for yourself and analyze their feasibility. Are you setting yourself up for disappointment? Are all your goals achievement-related with no consideration given to personal progress and development? Always push yourself and your horse to be better, but make sure the definition of success that you’ve set for yourself is reasonable and obtainable to avoid disappointment in the future.

5. Come up with a new plan

So, last year didn’t go as planned. The good news is, that year is coming to an end. Now is the perfect time to reset, regroup and come up with a new plan to implement in the coming show season. Talking with your trainers, investing time and energy, setting goals and mapping out a path are all great ways to set yourself up for success for the new year. Starting fresh can be invigorating and every time you step in the show pen should be looked at as a unique opportunity to showcase your hard work and progress.

Although you may have had a disappointing and challenging year, we as horse owners and riders have a lot to be thankful for. As the year comes to an end, now is the perfect time to let go of the past and look forward to the future with a fresh, grateful perspective.

About the Author: Julie Hoefling was born and raised in Akron, Michigan but now resides in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, Jerry. She works at Central Garden & Pet (Equine Division – Farnam) as a Brand Manager over grooming, wound, and leather care. Julie shows her horses, Shady Impulse and Doctor Phil Good in the western all-around and futurity events under the guidance of Ryan and Andrea Kail.