My dad used to say when I was growing up that if you looked up the word relentless in the dictionary there would be a picture of me next to it. I think at the time he meant my relentlessness in constantly asking for a horse (and everything else that went along with it), but over time I've begun to realize just how much of this personality trait is needed in eventing.
As nearly all eventers go through at one point or another, I've been having a bout of bad luck recently. From missing a pair of mandatory flags on cross-country and being eliminated without being able to finish the course, to my freshly moved up Intermediate horse deciding not to play in the show jump ring at his next competition after a nearly flawless move up previously, to my top horse receiving yet another injury, to getting a technical elimination for wearing bit guards in dressage at a Beginner Novice, my luck just seems to be on the wrong side of the wheel these days.
Unfortunately for those in this sport, this is just how it is sometimes. This is also why it's so important for those invested in it to be so passionate about it, and to have a very large stubborn streak to stay in it. Some days it isn't even about competing; some days it's the relentlessness to go to the barn day after day after day to do what's needed to take care of your horse and to press on forward, no matter how tough it is. Some of the hardest times in this sport are when your horse is sidelined with an injury and all you can do is have patience and persistence in taking care of him, taking each small step forward as a victory to get back to where you were.
And when it is about the training, it's the persistence to keep training, to keep learning, to admit to yourself sometimes that you were wrong and need to try things a different way. The persistence, the resilience, the toughness, the stubbornness to not let go of your dreams no matter how many times you fail. Probably the only thing more important than the relentlessness to keep on trying is to learn from the mistakes that were made.
"The difference between winners and losers is that winners fail more," my dad has always told me. I think we tend to think of those who are consistently in the top in big competitions as those who nearly always win or succeed, and we question how they are always able to do it. But what we don't even begin to realize is how many times they've met failure over and over again, the only difference being that they don't let their failures overcome them; instead, they learn from their mistakes and do their best to not repeat them. They practice over and over again to get it right until it's as easy and natural as breathing. They stay stubborn in their will to succeed.
With the Olympics upon us, we saw those compete who have worked very hard to get to this point and who all have a very strong stubborn streak to stay in this sport after years of hardships. We cheered not just for the USA, but for all the riders and their amazing equine partners to make it across the finish line. Because no matter what the level, crossing that finish line after a successful run with your favorite horse happily galloping underneath you, both of you on an adrenaline rush after answering all the questions posed to you out on course, your heart bursting full of pride in both yourself and your partnership with your horse, is worth every second of doubt, heartbreak, and bad luck. Be relentless, be stubborn, be persistent, be resilient, USEA, no matter what is thrown at you. Our amazing horses and our incredible partnerships in this sport are well worth it.
About Ashley Kriegel Trier
Ashley is a CCI2* rider who is based out of The Plains, Va. Following a lifetime of riding and competing and several years as a working student for CCI4* riders, Ashley branched out on her own as a professional in 2013. She currently is competing her own horses at the Intermediate and Preliminary levels and bringing along a 4-year-old OTTB all while teaching a slew of juniors and adult amateurs to learn to love and compete safely in the sport of Eventing. Ashley will be sharing her experiences navigating the Eventing world as a young professional in her monthly blogs. To learn more about Ashley visit: http://ashleytriereventing.com/
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