By April Ray-Peterson
The idea of perfection is an elusive one. At least for me, it always has been. And yet my desire to be perfect is still present in all aspects of my life, especially when it comes to horses.
In the horse world, the idea of perfection is hilarious, as if one could expect perfection when dealing with a large animal with a mind of its very own. And yet so many riders, myself included, want perfection. Holding ourselves to that type of unattainable standard can be damaging and downright unproductive. Horses have a unique way of reminding us to be humble, and yet to work with them successfully you need to have a level of confidence. It ends up being quite the paradox for people who struggle with self-confidence issues or anxiety, or really for anyone who is, in fact, a human being. If you are immune to these struggles, I want to know what your secret is.
If your goal is perfection, you may spend a lot of time trying to get there and face a lot of disappointment along the way. Sure, we all want to put in that perfect round, but when you miss at jump four on course and can’t let go of that mistake, it’s going to negatively affect the rest of your round. Being able to learn from your mistakes, let go, and move on is likely one of the most valuable skills you can learn as a rider and a horse person. And one I am still struggling with to this day.
In a sport where there is a lot of peer pressure and judgment, it may be that the perfection part comes from worrying about what others think. It’s definitely part of the equation for me. I have started to realize now whose opinion really matters – my horse’s. If she’s happy and I’m doing the best I can – what else can anyone ask for? Certainly not perfection.