I've been really enjoying reading all the posts for the Hunter Princess Blog Hop, put on by Lauren of She Moved to Texas. It's geared for hunter/jumper riders, so I haven't been participating myself, though I've learned a lot about the h/j world through the participating posts.
But last week's question has really stuck with me. Especially with my show coming up this week, it's interesting to ask myself:
Why do I love showing?
Shows are fun to be at. I love the atmosphere, the excitement. I love watching others ride. I love meeting people, and developing friendships. I love looking at the beautiful and spirited horses. I love rooting for people I know or know of. But I could get all that by being a spectator, and I think the question is more about why I'm a competitor.
I'm not a particularly competitive person. Doing well is nice bonus, but since I've never felt I could actually be competitive in this sport (first because I was new, then because I had a green horse, then again because I had a newer greener horse), I never have gone into a show thinking that we were there to do better than our competitors and get a ribbon. They've all been outings and learning experiences. Shows are a tool for evaluating mine and my horse's training. It's a way for me to measure where we are and where we are going. They are useful for goal setting, and help give structure and purpose to our work.
Even once we've got more experience under our belts and maybe could be competitive, I still think my goal for every single show will simply be for us to perform to the best of our abilities on that day. That's why I love shows: it's crunch time. It's an opportunity to see if all that training and preparing can come together, on command. You can practice perfectly 100 times, but what counts is this time. I guess I like the challenge of performing under pressure - getting it done when it counts.
But especially at this point in our career, shows are a wonderful shared experience for me and Hemie to bond. We are going through this experience together, with stresses and joys, and come out the other side as a better team. The trust we develop during these crunch times is worth all the costs.