Against the ‘Move-Up Mentality’

Photo by Liz Crawley Photography.

Eventing is one of the greatest sports that I have ever had the privilege of training and competing in. However, it’s also of the hardest. It’s not only physically, emotionally, and financially demanding, like most sports, it also comes with a lot of personal criticism.

Growing up, I was especially lucky to lease horses from friends that allowed me to pursue my dreams and reach my goals. When you’re 13 years old, you don’t really notice the side of the sport of where everyone is constantly watching you. People are watching who you train with, what events you go to, how well you placed, and so on. As I got older and had the privilege to buy my own event horse, this only seemed to become more evident. People ask you why you paid X amount of money for a horse? Or why you haven’t moved up to a certain level yet? Or why haven’t you shown in a while, is your horse hurt? I’ve gotten those questions repeatedly. At the end of the day, I just shrugged them off. However, I see more and more people feeling inclined to share their opinion, even when it’s not being asked and ultimately hurting the person it is being said to.

What you do with your horse is your decision. We all do this sport for the same reason: because we love the horses. However, we do not all have the same goals. My goal isn’t to go to Kentucky or the Olympics. I love the horse I have and I want to enjoy every ride I have with him everyday and move up the levels when I feel that we are both ready. Does that make what I’m doing versus the person that is moving up because they feel ready and are trying to qualify for the FEI level wrong? Absolutely not. I applaud those people. Those are their goals. Those are not mine.

We need to stop judging people for the decisions they make and what they do with their horses. Be happy for them. Don’t belittle what they are doing.

I think we should respect the person that chooses to compete at Novice because that’s where they are happy and are enjoying the sport just as much as the person who is running around Kentucky.

At the end of the day, we do this because we love the horses and want to enjoy it. I think we can all agree we’re incredibly lucky to be able to do this sport. So let’s remember that and be kind to everyone and respect what they choose to do.