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Why the Concept of Equestrian Perfection Doesn’t Exist

The paradox of perfection is one that scientists, philosophers, and even mundane citizens greatly ponder. What does it mean to be perfect? To some, it means the golden trophy or blue ribbon.

To others, it means executing a pattern flawlessly. The concept of perfection kills more dreams than failure ever could. This ideology drives some exhibitors to the verge of quitting when things do not go their way.

Striving for greatness is always valued, but do not let yourself fall into the trap of self-doubt. This spiral is lethal to the longevity of your show career and work ethic. It is challenging to let yourself make mistakes, but learning from mishaps is invaluable.

1) Comparing yourself to others

This is a trap that everyone falls into at some point in their show career. People compare their clothes, cars, and houses. Exhibitors compare their show clothes, horses, and awards. It is human nature to want to be the best, however, you should not waste your time comparing yourself to others.

Everyone is different; on their separate journey. Why waste your time thinking, “She is better at showmanship than me,” or “My jacket isn’t as fancy as hers?” Acting in this manner makes showing less fun and sparks the flame of drama.

Take the time to learn from others and appreciate their achievements, but try not compare your abilities to someone else.

2) Setting unrealistic goals

This happens far too often in the equine industry. Whether you are an exhibitor or a trainer, it is essential to set realistic goals for yourself. For example – if your horse is learning the trail, do not set a goal that you want to win the Congress in the trail with only a month to practice.

Always dream big and set long-term goals, but make sure you do this with a doable time frame in mind. With the constant striving for perfection, exhibitors often lose sight of what is truly important. The ultimate goal of winning a globe is great, but focus on the smaller milestones to get there.

3) Influence of social media

The power of social media plays a predominant role in setting societal standards of perfection. Everyone has riders who inspire them, and that is wonderful. But, remember that people only post what they want others to see. For example; someone may have had a winning horsemanship pattern at a show, but they did not post the video of the horse bucking in the warm-up pen.

Instagram, Facebook, etc. are all outlets for people to share their love for horses, which is lovely. However, it is crucial to remember that no one and no horse is perfect. Everyone has their good and bad days – that is just part of our imperfectly amazing lives on this planet.

4) Expectations

Expectations of others play a detrimental role in the never-ending quest for unattainable perfection. Many exhibitors can relate to this, not only in their personal lives, but also in the show pen. The pressure of showing can become very heavy at times; especially at major events.

Every rider imagines their perfect ride heading into the pen; some even expect to receive an award. When that expectation is not met, it can be extremely discouraging. That is why it is crucial to strive for progression over perfection.

5) You are your own worst critic

You probably think others are criticizing you for not performing well in the show pen. You may be right. However, you are your own worst critic at the end of the day. It is easy to get caught up in what the rest of the world thinks, but fight the urge to succumb to this. Let yourself make mistakes and do not judge too much.

6) There is always room for improvement

The concept of perfection entails the absence of error and the inability to be better. To achieve being “perfect” means that you have hit the ceiling of potential. However, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are nine or ninety, there is going to be something in this world that you can become better at.

The equine industry is continually evolving; therefore, exhibitors are required to grow with it. Some people may act like know-it-alls, but there is not one person who truly knows it all. Perfection is just a concept created to make you believe that there is a ceiling to your possibilities. When in reality, your potential is limitless when you think it can be.

7) People are subjective

Remember that this is a sport where exhibitors pay people to judge them. Horse showing is hugely subjective. Everyone has their own opinions and equestrians are extra opinionated.

Perfection rests in the eyes of the beholder. Therefore, being “perfect” changes depending on who you ask. Do not hold yourself to unattainable standards. This detrimental cycle kills the longevity of showing careers.

8) We are all human

We are all just humans. People make mistakes and hopefully grow from them. Perfection is not something you can ever reach. Instead, focus on progress and growth. Ultimately have fun. Horse showing is competitive and challenging, but do not lose sight of the big picture. We are human. We are perfectly imperfect.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and has been riding horses for nine years and has loved every minute. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat shows the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.