A Horse and Determination

This past weekend my daughter won her association’s pole race to qualify for the state championship, which will be held over Labor Day Weekend. This is a major accomplishment and we are very proud of her for achieving this feat.

What we are really proud of though, is the hard work and dedication it took for this to happen.

Last year my daughter used her barrel racing horse named Kite for the pole competition. We really didn’t have much of a choice because we purchased another horse to perform two other speed events. We could not afford another horse just for poles.

Poles is an event where you weave in and out of vertical poles without knocking them over and the fastest time wins. If you knock a pole over you are disqualified. Kite did okay on poles, but he was really made to run barrels.

We knew that for Sadie to compete at the state level she was going to have to have a horse that was really good at poles. The opportunity arose for us to use a horse for this season that was trained specifically for poles.

The problem was this horse was trained to be steered more with the riders legs than the bit in the mouth. Sadie had never ridden a horse like this, but we knew that if she was going to have a chance at the state level she was going to have to learn this style.

The new horse’s name is RIO and we got him right before the season started last spring. Sadie immediately began riding him through the poles, but right away we knew it was going to take a lot of work because this was such a different style than what she was used to riding.

She practiced and practiced, but could not get through the poles without knocking them over. We knew there was a learning curve, but we figured no later than the middle of the season she would have it figured out.

The season consists of ten shows. The first show she hit poles and was disqualified. We weren’t too concerned because we knew this was to be expected. The second show she had a good clean run and placed 2nd. We were ecstatic because we thought she had figured it out much sooner than we anticipated.

We were wrong. The next five shows consisted of hitting poles and then spending the week practicing on how to make clean runs. She also had to practice riding her other two horses in the other events she competed in with them, so she had to make the most of the limited time she had with Rio.

We were becoming very discouraged and felt as if we had made a big mistake by having her use this new horse.

Sadie was disappointed, but very determined to figure out how to ride Rio. She never blamed the horse and diligently listened to the instructions from her coach. Every pole she knocked down just steeled her resolve to work harder.

After seven shows she had one clean run and we were accepting that she was not going to qualify for the state finals. However, at the 8th show she had a great ride and placed, then the 9th show she had a great ride and placed.

It all came down to the tenth and final show. She had to win the show to even have a chance of making it to the state final. Sadie did not buckle under the pressure. She pushed Rio hard, utilized all the techniques she had practiced so hard , and had a clean ride that was her fastest time of the year. She won the race that night and secured her spot in the state final.

Many people lose patience and quit striving for a goal way too soon. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Elvis Presley was told after one of his early concerts to give up the music industry because he didn’t have any talent by the promoter. J.K. Rowling was living on government aid and was rejected dozens of times before her first Harry Potter book was given a chance by a publisher.

Sadie never gave up on Rio, she never blamed anything for her failed attempts, she never quit seeking advice and she never quit working hard to achieve her goal of making it to the state final.

These are all great lessons we can all apply the next time we face adversity.