Making Connections: Prioritizing Relationships Over Championships
Apples are a staple food in many individual’s diets, as they can be prepared and consumed in so many ways. Apples can be made into apple pie, applesauce, caramel apples, apple crisp, apple fritters, apple butter, apple cider…the list goes on. We can thank none other than an apple tree itself for giving us these sweet, red treats.
While there are countless apple orchards around, growing the tree isn’t as simple as planting a seed in the ground and watering it. Producing these trees entails the correct soil, sunlight, weather, protection from wildlife and fertilizers. If it is nurtured correctly, you will have an apple tree after a few years with countless apples growing from its branches.
After all this hard work, a person would be thrilled to see so many red fruits hanging from the branches. However, does the success and satisfaction lie in getting the tree to grow or in how you use the fruits it bears?
Just like an apple tree giving us fruit to physically nurture us, the horse industry cultivates our passion. The associations themselves are the trunk of the tree, as they are the foundations of our industry and support the dreams we all pursue with our talented, loving horses. The state affiliations, organizations, and groups that have grown from the associations are the branches. All the members and horses are the many leaves and apples that sprinkle the tree with vibrant colors.
More than that, all the opportunities, connections and friendships that are produced from the associations and their trees symbolize the different foods you can make from apples. The people you meet in this industry, the apples you pick from the tree, can provide support, advice, learning opportunities, jobs, scholarships, internships and so much more.
On a personal level, an apple tree can represent your endeavors. You grow an apple tree, you develop a horse and, after years of hard work, you finally win a coveted trophy and an apple now hangs from your branches.
Unfortunately, too many people get caught up in growing their tree instead of picking from the flourishing tree of the association. They get wrapped up in winning trophies and tend to forget that there are so many recipes if they were developing apples from the horse industry, such as an internship, a career opportunity offered to you by a fellow equestrian or a leadership position within the industry.
Of course, winning a coveted globe is a huge accomplishment because it means all the hours you spent with your horse were recognized and rewarded, and there is arguably no better feeling than being the last exhibitor in the arena. However, it is critical to develop yourself as a leader, as a friend and as a teammate, which can be achieved if you make connections and foster relationships with other members in the horse world.
Your collection and recipes of apples should be of the utmost importance. Yes, you can spend years growing your tree, but it means nothing if you do not have a network of people nurturing you along the way.
You need your trainer to push you to be the best version of yourself, both in and out of the show pen, by providing their expertise and wisdom. You need your friends and family to provide you with laughter, support and great memories, especially to help you keep going when you are feeling down. You need your leaders of the organization to plan shows, conventions, banquets, meetings and events that will reward your hard work or give you an opportunity to learn.
All of these people develop you as a person and as an equestrian to exceed your expectations and to fulfill your dreams, whether they be within the horse world or outside of it.
So, the question remains, does the success and satisfaction lie in getting the tree to grow or in how you use the fruits it bears? That’s for you to decide. You can grow your tree and cover it in apples, your trophies, or you can pick from the tree of the horse industry to foster so many recipes of opportunities for your future.
Yes, everyone loves hearing their name announced as champion, but what is most important is who is standing by your side along the way to make you the optimal person and equestrian you can be. And most everyone would much rather have a delightful apple pie to eat rather than just a tree to gaze at.
About the Author: GoHorseShow writer, Emily Ambrose of Chardon, Ohio is a sophomore at Kent State University. She trains under the guidance of Seth and Amber Clark from Pierpont, Ohio. Emily avidly shows her horses, Play for A Minute, known as Ralphie, who is a 12-year-old all arounder, and Super Yellow Doc, known as Doc, who is a 22-year-old ranch horse. Her love of showing has been strengthened with the support of all of her friends in the Quarter Horse community and will continue her passion through and following the completion of her college career.