We can't all win all the time. Someone has to come in second or third or last place. Our society wants everyone to be winners. But it just doesn't work that way. I know it's not cool to call anyone losers, but the fact of the matter is: we all are going to be losers at some point.
This is true for horse shows and riding competitions. You won't take home the blue at every show, and sometimes you might not take home anything at all. It's cute that all the kids get ribbons in the lead line class regardless if they place or not, but the sooner you learn how to lose well, the quicker you can be a winner where it really matters. Here's a list of ways to be a good loser.
1. Don't compete against the crowd.
Sounds silly, right? If you're in a competition you're out to beat everyone, aren't you? Try not to have that mind set. You don't want to be a rider that's out to beat everyone else riding against you. That's not a good attitude to enter the ring with. Smashing the competition shouldn't be your motivation. The chances are, if you aren't successful in that goal, you're ego will be a little bruised and you'll try to place the blame on someone else. Whether it's the judge whose biased or your trainer who didn't get you warmed up enough.
To maintain a good mindset, always try to beat your last performance. Your last performance could've been a quick session the previous day before you bathed your horse for the show. You should try to beat that. If you are better than you were yesterday, you are winning.
2. Accept responsibility instead of finding blame.
This is a tough one. It's hard to accept you didn't do well or you made a mistake. Because riding has a lot of variables, it is far too easy to lay the blame of a bad ride on something else. Playing the Blame Game is not a sign of good sportsmanship. It's also unhealthy to your riding career.
The only way a rider can become a better horseman is by being honest with themselves. If you can acknowledge that you didn't do well for whatever reason on your part, you can begin to fix the problem. It's better to own your mistakes than it is to fault something else. If you constantly find excuses and blame everything but yourself for a poor performance you will never get better.
3. Admit there's room for improvement.
Whether you win champion in your division or you go home empty handed, admit to yourself that there's always room for improvement. This is a little easier for people to admit than it is to own your mistakes like mentioned above, but it's still as important to recognize in order to be a good loser.
We all like to brag about how well we did or how well our horses behaved. Even in the face of a loss we'll say, "We didn't win, but I'm really proud of how we did. I couldn't ask for more." Yes, you can.
Some people say this sort of thing in order to act like a good loser, but remember pride can be dangerous. Look at what you could have done differently and see what needs work. If you can figure out what went wrong, you can do better the next time. It's a process. Learn to love it. Winning feels good, but so can the road to improvement. Hard work feels better than a ribbon.
4. Always pet your horse at the end of a class.
This may sound childish, but after a class pet your horse. It's hard to be mad about the results of a class if you physically show a little love to the creature who humbly carried you through the event. If it weren't for him you wouldn't be there at all. Don't be the rider who enthusiastically pats their horse on the shoulder after a first place win, but gives no attention to the horse after a less than satisfactory placing.
Win or lose, your horse still worked for you. He still took care of you. He deserves a job well done. Acknowledge his effort and it'll be easier to cope with that green, sixth place ribbon.
We've all been told at some point, "Don't be a sore loser." Now, you have a few tips to help you become a good loser. The better a loser you are, the more of a winner you become by making steps in the right direction.