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Five Simple Lessons You can Learn from Losing

No matter what sport you are competing in, no one enjoys hearing that they are not the best. The initial disappointment of losing is not at all desirable, no matter how long you have been showing.

However, aside from the immediate frustration in the outcome, there are many lessons to be learned from not winning every time you enter the arena. These experiences are essential to understand in order for you to grow as both a horseman, and a showman.

Here are some basic bits of advice on how to make the most out of defeat in the show pen.

1) Compare Yourself to the Winner

Review scorecards and videos to gain an understanding of what the winners did better than you. Take note of these differences so that you can practice at home to give the judges what they are looking for. Compare your position, pattern fluidity and overall appearance and presentation and discuss these differences with your trainer.

2) Listen to Constructive Criticism

You pay your trainers for a reason – to hear their professional advice. After they watched your poor performance in the arena, they will be able to tell you what to do differently and lay out a plan of how to improve. They will push you at home during lessons to improve your weaknesses that held you back from winning at the previous show. Be attentive as they work with you. Your trainers care about your success and want nothing but greatness from you.

3) Weekend Shows are Practice for Big Shows

Don’t get frustrated if you didn’t win at a weekend show because of something simple, like you missed your diagonal in your pattern. Now that you know your diagonals are a weakness, you can focus on them for the more important shows of the year such as the World Show and Congress. It is best to make mistakes at the small shows so that you are fully prepared for the big ones.

4) It’s Not Your Last Horse Show Ever

Most riders in our industry show at least once a month, but many show up to three or four weekends in a row in the height of show season. Do not get caught up in your performance in one class at one show. You have plenty more opportunities to redeem yourself, which will often be as soon as the following weekend.

5) Focus on Outperforming Yourself

The most important exhibitor to focus on in the arena is yourself. It doesn’t matter who you beat. What matters most is if you improved from your last performance. Save your comparisons of yourself and other exhibitors for when the class is over and you can adequately assess the results. When you are showing, your mind should be thinking about nothing other than you and your horse as a team, and trying to improve upon your own last performance.


Losing is not a fun subject to discuss, but it is most certainly a crucial one to understand. There would be no such thing as success if people didn’t fail. So, if you want to be the last one standing in the arena as you await that coveted gold globe, then you must embrace your losses and failures and make the most of them.

Portions of this article originally published January 2018.