Celebrate the Small Wins

There I was, stood looking at the results board, whilst she grinned from ear to ear, chattering away with her entourage, she had every right to be celebrating her victory … again!!!

I don’t really know her well, just know her name really from being at the top of the leader board and I may have taken a peek at her facebook page, so I didn’t have to celebrate with her, a mumbled ‘well done’ with a touch on the arm was sufficient.  Turning away with a heavy sigh, I could feel the weight of defeat heavy against my chest. It had happened again, just like before, I bombed out!  There has to be a silver lining in it all, right?

If I was going to fail at every competition, then it was time to stop and take a moment to celebrate the small wins.  Not the red rosette, the 70%+ score, or the Regional Qualification, no.  Instead, I’m talking about celebrating the small stuff; the little things that most brush off as no big deal or not good enough, particularly when the goal is to be competitive.  I’m talking about actively looking for the wins and celebrating them.  Here are some small win examples from my last outing:

  • I got there. I trained to the point where I felt able to enter a competition
  • My horse travelled well and handled the competition environment – probably better than me!
  • I got an 8 for the canter work (where most of my efforts have been concentrated recently)
  • I remembered the whole test and didn’t do an error of course
  • The judge commented that my horse has ‘very correct’ paces

It may sound weird to celebrate the things that most competition riders take for granted, but when you are working with a young or inexperienced horse and when you have a pathological fear of competing, it’s not just about how you perform in the arena, the whole day can be very trying.  You’ve worked hard to get to the point that you feel competent enough to compete, you need to pat yourself on the back for that win.

It’s actually fun to watch the reactions of others when they celebrate their small wins. That accomplishment of finally feeling like a winner shows in their eyes.  Remember what I shared about how I felt watching someone celebrate their big win? Just take a moment to visualize someone around you who was a bit intense after their big win. They were so excited, maybe a little out of control because they’re that happy. It’s not intentional, winning is exciting, it’s just human nature to go a bit over the top.  Now let’s stop and think about someone enjoying a small win. It feels different. Everyone is excited this time right, not just the big winner.

We can’t all be elite riders. The good news is we don’t have to be to recognize that we’ve accomplished something significant.  Next time I’m standing at the results board and my name is at the bottom with a sub 55% score, I’ll wryly smile and recall just how much my little horse and I have achieved together.  We’re invincible.

What about you?  Don’t be shy. Do you have a small win to celebrate? You know you do.  Pop it in the comments and share it so that others can relate and begin to celebrate their small wins.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


Small WinsThis post was inspired by Terra Kelly’s post at www.imaginebandt.com and reproduced by kind permission.

6 Responses

  1. I was in tears after completing first ever Area Festival – just so happy to have achieved the qualification which had been a goal for a while. Way down the results but who cares ? I know we can do better but for me it was a milestone.

  2. Patricia this was so me last weekend! I am the worlds worst at being hard on myself and consequently always feel disappointed with my performance. Once again given me a kick up the proverbial 😉 xx

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