Everybody rides for different reasons, but for many young riders those reasons are very similar. One main thing I have noticed is that many young riders, like myself, strive to be the next big thing. Everyone wants to be the next Phillip Dutton or Lauren Kieffer. This gives you a relatively large group of young riders all wanting to be the same thing: the best. As you probably guessed, this means you now have a big group of highly competitive teenagers, which definitely sounds like it won’t end well.
Well, this is what makes young eventers, in my opinion, special. Our competitiveness drives us together, not apart. I cannot count the number of times I have heard “Good luck!” “You looked awesome!” “Congrats!” “Have a good ride!” or even “I got a couple photos of you. I’ll be sure to text them to you!” As a whole, I believe young riders support each other, putting aside the natural competitiveness of the sport.
I think it is pretty cool to look at the scoreboard and know so many names, to be able to silently fist pump for a friend leading their division or somebody’s double clear round. Which brings me to my main point: Aside from riding to compete, I ride to have fun.
Some of the best moments at shows are off the horse. The last minute cross country course walks with early 2000’s music playing, the early morning braiding sessions, the post-ride food truck stop or even the impromptu bareback ride are moments I wouldn’t trade for the world. For me shows are a place of security, happiness and overall fun. For me personally, watching my friends cross the finish flags is just as fun as crossing them myself. All of these are reasons for me to ride.
However, there are people that for one reason or another, cannot get past the competitiveness. They get too hung up on the score, the ribbon, the number next to their name on the leaderboard. Because of this, they start to envy the people above them on the scoreboard. They let the competition take hold and suddenly they don’t see shows the way others do.
Jealousy doesn’t look good on anybody. Jealous people will stand by when you ride with a prying eye, judging you, inspecting and dissecting your ride. Jealous people will make snide comments and shut down compliments. But most of all jealous people only want to see you trip up. I don’t think anything stung worse than the time I heard someone cheer after they heard I had a stop on cross country.
Jealous people ride for a different reason than other people. Jealous people ride to beat the person ahead of them. It doesn’t matter to them if they are second to last, as long as you are in last. They ride to prove a negative point and put others down.
Please, don’t be the jealous person. Don’t spoil another person’s show. Refrain from pouring more competitiveness into the pot. Don’t let jealousy change the reasons you ride.
I ride to compete, to learn, to experience and to just have fun! Everyone has different specific reasons they ride, but it all comes down to two big things: fun and competition. I strive to keep shows fun and competitive, and I love seeing fellow riders do the same. If we continue to ride for genuine reasons, shows will remain positive, as well as competitive!