the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent.
Based upon the definition I can see where you might be wondering where my thoughts are with this post. Well, I’ll save you the trouble of wondering for too long. In my mind, striving for greatness does not mean that you are striving to be the best of the best. “Great” does not mean that you have to go and compete at the highest levels, “distinguished” doesn’t mean that you need to have walls decorated with row after row of blue ribbons, and “eminent” doesn’t mean that you need to have people hounding you for your commentary on whatever it is that they’re doing.
I tend to strive for greatness in every aspect of my life. I fail, quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to try. In relation to all things horses when I think of striving for greatness I think of doing my absolute best and that does not mean doing my absolute best to jump higher and faster and better than everyone else (okay, I mean yes that too but that seems to be more of a day dream).
It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the dreams and desires of being the best, riding at the highest levels, having people admire and envy you. I think most of the people I know probably dreamed of that as little kids, even if that doesn’t relate to horses everyone seems to have dreamed of being famous and great at some point or another. Still, when it comes to horses I would rather be great in different ways.
I will (likely) never jump above four feet, I will likely never get to travel the world to compete, I will likely never even get to travel out of state to compete but that doesn’t change a damn thing for me. I strive for greatness by simply trying to do right by the horses I ride. Sometimes I fail, but who doesn’t fail from time to time? Putting Bella, or any horses, needs ahead of my desires. The past year in particular I’ve found myself more in tune to her mental state and able to step back and really set aside my emotional baggage for her wellbeing.
The past few weeks have been pretty rough. Bella’s been in a constant state of being wound up tight the moment I put my foot into the stirrup. Before you get ahead of yourself wondering if I’ve had her checked over: her saddle fit is fine, my chiropractor recently adjusted her and was really pleased with her current state, her bridle is the same one I’ve been using for around four years and the same with her bit, also she got shoes back on a couple of weeks ago. Still, she’s been wound up. So after one particularly bad ride, I gave her a week off. Then we stepped back to lungeing (for the record, she lunges like an angel with or without tack).
This is where my need to strive for greatness as her owner, rider, and trainer comes into play. I just stepped back. Her mental health is obviously off kilter at the moment so I gave in and ordered a calming supplement (will update you on how that works, for the record I’m trying Smart Tranquility from SmartPak) and we’re back to just walk/trot work until she feels ready to canter again. You see, this is not the first time Bella has, for some unknown reason, decided that cantering and jumping might just bee too much for her to handle.
Back before I was in a good job where I was able to make enough money to live off of and afford whatever Bella needed I just had to step back and approach greatness by giving Bella the time and low energy exercise that she needed. I am really hoping that the supplements, however much it feels like cheating to use them, help her. I want to strive for greatness by making her the best that she can possibly be, and by that I mean happy, calm, and collected, but I also want to be able to enjoy her all the time and not feel like we’re taking three steps back every few months.
Long story short, striving for greatness doesn’t have to mean that you’re the greatest in the world. It must only mean that you are really trying to do your best with what you’ve got in front of you. That the mental and emotional wellbeing of your horse is not last on your list of concerns. If people see that within you, then yes they will be more interested in hearing what you have to say and watching what you do. For me, it’s not about that though; I just want Bella happy, healthy, and mentally sound. To cultivate confidence within her by not pressing her when she’s having a bad day.