If Wishes Were Horses
Updated: Feb 1
“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”― J.R.R. Tolkien
Equality is the new buzzword. While I believe that it is true that every person is equally valuable, it is also true that not everyone is equally talented or privileged. Unfortunately, we don't get to choose our abilities, family background, or place in history. However, we do get to decide “what to do with the time that is given to us”.
An important part of growing up is reaching a level of self-awareness – recognizing your strengths and limitations. I know the idea that we have limitations is not popular in current culture (where every kid is told they can do or be anything they want to be), but the truth is that no matter how badly you may want something, there are some things that may just not be possible for you to achieve.
Some of the limitations we must deal with may be outside of our control – talent, ability, finances, geography, and dare I say it, lucky breaks - however, others are self-imposed - fear, laziness, lack of commitment or ambition, being just a few.
As mentioned in my previous blogs (https://www.willowfarmequestrian.com/post/school-masters, https://www.willowfarmequestrian.com/post/nerves ) lack of finances and natural talent, and my struggle with big competition nerves, were the most limiting factors in my competitive career.
There was never any question of my commitment, and despite many days in my teenage years when I would have rather curled up with a book, or spent weekends hanging out with friends, most weekdays found me working horses after school (2 to 4 a day), and weekends were usually spent at horse shows.
However, my family couldn’t afford to buy expensive, talented, well-trained horses, and since riding is a partnership, talent or lack thereof in either horse or rider, will limit how successful that partnership can be. At the end of the day, you can only rise as high as your horse is able to take you, and no matter how good your horse may be, he can only take you as far as you are able to go.
Geography was another limiting factor which I had to overcome. To ride as a serious competitor, you must have access to top notch trainers and regular opportunities to show at A level events (there is a reason all the top U.S. riders congregate in Florida!). In South Africa, living in the Eastern Cape meant that I had access to neither. Our move from East Londen to Port Elizabeth (a larger city) meant that we had more opportunities to compete, however there were still no good local trainers available. Eventually we began organizing clinics at our barn so that we could afford to fly a trainer in regularly from Johannesburg (the center of South African competitive riding).
When I was a kid International Velvet was my favorite movie. I must have watched it a dozen times. And every time I watched it, I dreamed that if I worked hard enough, one day I too would ride in the Olympics. But, as the saying goes, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Not accepting your limitations is a sure way to set yourself up for failure and disappointment. As time went by I had to come to the realization that riding in the Olympics was an unrealistic, unattainable goal for me. My growing self-awareness helped me to adjust my dreams to better reflect my realities and allowed me to set goals which were achievable.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't push yourself to overcome your limitations and reach for bigger dreams. When you do, amazing things can happen. Just make sure that the stars you reach for are not too far beyond your reach.