How to Compete Against Your Friends
Eventually, everyone comes to the point where they have to compete against their closest friends. Whether it’s only one class or every single show, it can be tough. Someone is always going to win, possibly causing jealousy to arise and tensions to grow.
Or, you can shift those negative thoughts away and take showing against your friends as a way to motivate and push you. When competing against friends, it’s essential to take a step back and remember what means the most.
Instead of letting competition tear you apart, use these tips to strengthen your friendship and boost your confidence in the show ring.
1. We’re all in this together
Everyone’s just trying to have a successful show, and you know how hard your friends have worked to get where they are. You’ve been practicing together and encouraging each other through training and lessons, watching each other put blood, sweat, and tears into this sport, so make sure you take a second to watch their trail or horsemanship pattern. Even offer to videotape it for them. It’s the smallest things that make the most significant difference.
2. Always be willing to lend a hand
Whether it’s merely zipping up chaps, doing each other’s hair, or giving a leg up, helping your friends allows you to be focused on someone other than yourself. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to take a break from worrying about your next class and give someone else a hand. Don’t make showing about you all the time. Your friends will feel a lot better if you’re there to help and support them instead of being their biggest competition.
3. Laughter is the best medicine
Competition can be stressful and sometimes, joking around can be a simple solution to lightening the mood. Maybe one of your friends goes to the wrong cone or picks up the wrong lead in a pattern. Instead of dwelling on it or comparing their pattern to yours, be the reason they laugh. Crack a joke, and bring some lightheartedness to the ring. Mistakes happen and the key to good horsemanship is having the right attitude.
4. Take it all in
Make sure to remember why you chose this sport in the first place. It’s all about you and your horse and the team you are together. When the stress of the show ring creeps in, take a step back and realize how lucky you are to be where you are. It’s the small moments, like wasting time in between classes, that you will never forget, the bond between a horseman and their horse that will never falter, and the friendships that will last you a lifetime.
5. Always be each other’s biggest fan
If you’re not going to clap for them or give them a high-five, who will? When you hear the announcer say your friend’s name, no matter what place came before it, you should be the loudest person in the arena. Cheering your friends on and encouraging them along the way is the best thing you can do to ensure competition goes smoothly. It feels good to be cheered on, especially when it’s coming from someone you’re showing against. Even if you messed up a pivot or transition in the class, and your friend wins, cheer for them. They worked hard for that blue ribbon. Good sportsmanship is a sign of an exceptional showman, so make sure you practice it.
6. Don’t hold back
No matter what, every time you take a step or stride into the show ring, give it your all. Even if your best friend is on the rail in front of you, it’s your time to shine and show off how hard you have worked. Never allow someone else to determine your performance. Your friends should be happy for you if you do well because they too should know how hard you’ve worked to get where you are. Don’t let the fact that you’re competing against your friends intimidate or deter you.
7. But don’t rub it in
Maybe you won the class, and your friend didn’t even place. Be proud of yourself, but don’t rub it in. Everyone has good and bad days and everyone has been in the trenches. Celebrate yourself, but not too much. Be there for your friends if they’re having a bad day. Next time, it could be you who goes home without a ribbon, and everyone knows how that feels, so treat your friends the way you would want to be treated.
8. Never let the placings get in the way of friendship
It’s not about the fancy trophies and titles. Don’t let who got what place get in the way of the big things. Everyone is at a different place in their riding journey, and eventually, everyone will get to where they want to be. Instead of focusing on the ribbons and trophies, concentrate on the essential things, like friendships and memories.