This Is My Fight Song

Vinnie at June GMHA 2015. Used with permission, Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto Vinnie at June GMHA 2015. Used with permission, Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto

I’m pretty sure Rachel Platten did not have horses or eventing in mind when she wrote “This Is My Fight Song,” though the underlying intentions of this song speak loudly on so many levels regardless of its original meaning.

This song just happened to be playing on the radio the day after our jumper show. I was driving to a friend’s farm to ride a couple horses and as I sat there totally engrossed in the lyrics I realized how empowering her words were in that moment and how those words translated in my tiny universe.

So, being the inquisitive nerd I am, I immediately came home after my rides and Googled this individual in hopes of a possible interview or insight into this song. Here’s what I found when an interviewer asked Rachel about the meaning behind this song:

“I wrote “Fight Song” when I was at a crossroad in my life: on the outside there was a lot of hard stuff going on and a lot of reason to give up on myself…but through writing this song, I made the decision to not listen to that small mean voice that was telling me I wasn’t good enough. I decided to keep believing in myself no matter what.”

Back to our jumper show here at Tamarack two days ago. The day started at 10 a.m. with little kids and their ponies and everything in-between jumping 20” and we worked our way up to 3’6” by 3:45 p.m.

I decided to ride Vinnie in a couple classes and felt very confident going into the ring. I have been riding this amazing Irish horse for just over a year now and have learned more and gained more confidence than any horse I have ever sat on.

Though despite the familiarity of riding at one’s home turf so to speak, there’s still a degree of pressure no matter how you slice the cake.

I have been riding at Tamarack for nine years and have been in and out of THAT particular jump ring more times than I can count, and yet, having your trainer’s eyes and strangers eyes, and bright eyed students eagerly awaiting you to either rise to the occasion or fail miserably can be daunting.

I went in the ring, picked up a canter and had a very good 3’3” round, plus one of the best jump offs I have ever ridden. I ended up winning that class and needless to say I felt pretty confident and prepared for what was about to come.

All of a sudden the jumps started looking quite large. Yes, I have jumped some huge jumps (in my book, not Margie Engle’s book) and yes I am competing at the Preliminary level, but the jumps were solid and there was certainly no time to coast during this course. Jumps came up quickly and you had to make decisions.

I went in the ring, though this time I felt my heart pounding. I tried so hard to drown out the beating heart with sounds of the perfect canter rhythm in my head, “1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2…”

I managed to keep it together for the first five jumps and then I came to the triple without anything. No rhythm, no balance, no engagement, no timing…no nothing.

Vinnie was a trooper and jumped through the line awkwardly without touching a rail and without stopping, even though I put him in a horrible position to jump. I became frazzled and did not ride the rest of the course.

At the end I took a deep breath, listened to what Denny had to say from the sidelines and proceeded with my jump off, which turned out to be slightly redeeming.

We all want to go in the ring and perform. No matter what level you are at, no matter what your goals. Whether you are gearing up for novice, or you’re preparing for the Pan Am’s, most of us want to go in the ring and ride to the best of our ability.

We want to succeed and we certainly do not want to let our horses down, or our coaches, or anyone who watches you or admires you. BUT, we are going to fail and we are going to mess up, and that’s what makes us human. We are going to have our ups and our downs and we have to pick ourselves up and keep trying.

So many of us are obsessed with this sport and have been riding for most of our lives. We work very hard and for most of us it’s not about a glamorous shot in a magazine, or prize money at some CIC3*, and it’s not really about the twenty-five cent ribbon.

It’s about putting your skills to the test. Everything you have worked so hard for and all the hours spent practicing are suppose to pay off. Sometimes under pressure we ride to the best of our ability and other times we will crumble. But we have to keep trying, otherwise we’ll never get over this anxiety!

Just like this song, we have to keep fighting for what we want. Even if nobody believes in you, or even if you have a huge following, you have to keep pushing forward. At the end of the day, it’s not about how everyone else thinks you rode, or whether or not your sponsors will keep sponsoring you, it’s about what you want and it’s about staying strong … “and  I don’t really care if nobody else believes cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…”