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SWR Blog: The Confidence Win

This was a “confidence win”…

In my instruction, I employ a number of teaching methods, but they all have common goal: to help people learn and practice the skills required not only sustain themselves through the hard times, but also to pursue their dreams in life. For my students, horses can be their dream-makers, and not just in the horse world, but in their life beyond the barn. One way this happens is through experiences in the show pen and other forms of competition.

I understand and respect the principles of winning and losing, and the fact that not everything is fair in the world. These can be extremely hard to experience and even harder lessons to learn…especially when you put forth your full effort, but still come up a bit short of the win.  Horses, too, have their good days and their bad days in training. We as riders know we can ride a lot of bad days before experiencing a good one, the day we are floating on a cloud.

I am known, especially in relation to our Cowboy Dressage programs, for being relentless in repeating words like these, :  Remember, we are not riding to win the class. We are riding for the judge’s comments, so we can come home knowing what else we can work on with our horses, to create a better relationship.

Our recent Show offered a prime example of this concept. One of my girls entered her class and was performing well, that was, until someone across from the venue decided to fire up a pneumatic jack hammer. As the rider felt her horse getting nervous, she tensed up and her horse spooked, right in front of the judges of course! As quickly as she could, she went to safety seat, calmly handled her horse, keeping him in the court, and coming to a stop. She then breathed, lovingly rubbed his neck and told him they could do this. The horse appeared to let out a deep sigh. So, she performed her turn on the haunches and finished the rest of her pattern with a big smile and a huge bow to her judge! The crowd was whooping and hollering with ponderous applause! I met her at the end of the arena, where she dismounted and told me that she was so proud of her horse and herself!  Tears welled up in my eyes.

Many people would have seen this as a discouraging failure, a non-win with no ribbon. But for her, it was bigger than winning any ribbon. This was a “confidence win”  that no other situation could have given to her. She will carry this moment with her for the rest of her life, never forgetting the day that everything fell apart…but she didn’t!

Lisa Wegener
Director of Riding Programs








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