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Grit: Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Successful Horseman or Horsewoman?
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Grit: Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Successful Horseman or Horsewoman?

What separates successful competitors from those that quit?

Is it talent?

Are successful riders naturally gifted with riding ability?

I don’t believe so.

If it isn’t talent, then what is it that determines if someone will be successful?

I believe it is Grit.

In Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance she says, “Grit is sticking with your future day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

Angela Duckworth has studied a variety of successful people, and in her book, she shares that Passion, Practice, Purpose, and Perseverance, the four qualities that make up grit, are the key to success.

So what does a “gritty” horseman/horsewoman look like?

I have thought about and analyzed “grit” and these four qualities, and here is what I think a “gritty” horseman/horsewoman looks like.

Passion: Horsemen/horsewomen that view horsemanship as a journey, not a destination, will last longer and be more successful.

Horsemen/horsewomen with grit have a deep passion for the horse and horsemanship. They have a passion for the process, for the long hours of training, and for the lifestyle that defines a true horseman. They are internally motivated to keep going when the going gets tough. They use failure to learn and fuel the fire of passion for improving their horsemanship.

Practice: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Horsemen/horsewomen with grit practice even when they don’t feel like it, when it is raining, snowing, hot, or cold. The effort you apply each day counts twice toward achievement. In her book, Angela Duckworth shares the following equation: Effort x Talent = Skill. Skill x Effort = Achievement. So your effort counts twice towards your achievement.

Purpose: Riders with purpose will be more successful than those that only have passion.

Grit is about doing something that you care about, something that gives you purpose. Horsemen/horsewomen with purpose say they do it for the love of the horse. What is your purpose? Why do you ride?

Perseverance: Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

Riders with grit get back on the horse. Every. Single. Time. They take the time that it takes for the horse. They don’t quit-they persevere. I believe that these four qualities separate the successful horsemen/horsewomen from those that quit.

Do you have grit?

If you want to develop these qualities to improve your horsemanship and take the next step along your horsemanship journey, learn more about my “Get Gritty: Mental Toughness Program for Western Performance Horse Riders” by visiting my website, www.socialstockwoman.com

Until next time, Get Gritty!

Siobhan "Chevy" Allen, The Social Stockwoman

Personal Performance Coach and Certified Master Life Coach

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  1. jst4horses
    A great article, but to me, you will know you are a true horseperson when one of your students says something like a little girl said to me one day........she said, you know what Ms. Liz, I think YOU are a horse! When we learn that winning trophies, or ribbons, while fun to some folks, and most of us as teens......we have just put our foot on the path of horsemanship.......I remember the great words of an Olympic swimmer I saw speaking at a women's conference long ago.......she had been an Olympic swimmer, and suddenly got cancer and had to have one limb amputated. No more Olympic level swimming. She did however get a job teaching swim and swim teams at a very prestigious school in a very prestigious neighborhood where they prided themselves that their children went to "public" school...........almost immediately she realized that those youth needed her more than she needed more medals. Over her career, she has had many a young person come back and tell her that her passion, her concern, and HER perseverance when she lost "everything" and still caring for others made that young person realize there were a lot more things to life than just material goals and "winning". Her students gave HER a Gold Medal.........for life......a lot better than one for that period of time........it is great to have goals, and reach them, but to be a successful horseperson, you are going to have to become a horse! otherwise, no matter how successful, you are just a rider. When I was training race and show horses, I would see trainers come in and shout out their demands for the day, they had winning barns, and rich clients........other trainers, when their horses came onto the track, or into the show arena, you could tell, even with the exercise riders, those horses were champions, whether they ever won a race or ribbon, which most of them did. One trainer used to see every horse in his barn BEFORE the grooms got in at 4 am, and again in the evening AFTER everyone but the night watch had left. He carried mints, in big crates in his truck........and those horses had their noses out to greet him......he was a horseman.....he could tell, just from their eating a mint how they were feeling.................another thing I learned from a great horseman was to check the water pails, and the automatic waterers morning and night. I personally do not like all the chlorine in the water, and buy expensive blue algae to put in my water tubs, and do NOT clean the large tubs every single day..........I had to learn bad algae as well, and if at all possible like a huge cattle trough with fish and plants in it.............but, in racing and show barns, you have to work with what is there..........and one thing that gets there is broken automatic waterers...........I have come in and "felt" a horse not feeling well, in other barns I had picked up for nighwatch for one night.........and sure enough, the waterer was broken, and the horse was started on colic...........call the vet, and the trainer and get that horse healed in time for morning work..........or maybe a day off.......If you have been around a horse for a short time, you should be able to "feel" their foot placement and pick up knee, shoulder and hoof problems just from hearing them put their feet down........I had a stroke, at 29 and could never remember the names for all the parts, but I can look at a horse walking by and "feel" what is going on...............it takes a lLONG time, and listening to a lot of old grooms, and watching them, and old trainers and old vets...............but then you are on your way to one day becoming a horseperson.............to me, you will never be a TEN at being a horseman, because you will always learn new things from horses and experts...........and we do NOT give away or sell our horses, once they are with us, it is for life.............and often, horses we trained are donated back when their short careers are over. The high risk youth and veterans and first responders in our programs have plenty of time to spend two or three years learning and doing the vet teching it takes to heal and restore a horse that usually would be sold at meat auction, or put down. AND it is great to have some million dollar horses that after those two or three years are still young, and amazing and hEALED. That to me is a horseperson. I think I knew I was a horseperson for sure when I saw a tiny rise on the tummy of a huge racing stallion, it bothered me, so I came back, later in the day, two or three times from my day job, in a thousand dollar suit and checked.......I did put on my stable boots. At the end of a really pesky meeting, I went, in the middle of the night, in the rain to check a horse that had felt colicky to me, but no real signs, sure enough, he was down, had no time to change into boots, got out in that mud and pleaded with him to get up, and got him walking in those fine shoes, and then feet in ruined stockings.........up and down in the rain until the vet got there.....................The cleaners managed to save the suit, the vet saved the horse, the shoes..........big loss.....but I was happy..........to me, being for the horse is part of being a horseperson..........not just a rider.

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