The Age Impaired Rider: ‘Nobody Cares about You’

Dia Moya, our resident “age impaired rider,” shares a gem of wisdom that has served her well at horse shows over the years.

From Dia:

It is amazing how much the human brain can get worked up over the simplest stuff.  Even when things are going we well, we can over-think, over analyze and generally sabotage our own performances. And when things are going poorly there is no bottom floor for the brain.

I can be the queen of this… if my horse doesn’t load quickly and we are late to the show grounds, if my first jump in the warm up pen is over a vertical and not an X or if I perceive that there are people in the stands, warm up pen or anywhere with 20 miles of the show grounds who could be laughing at my riding/training/grooming abilities, my mental elevator can plummet down to earth.  It can crash through floor after floor, the indicator arrow swooshing from left to right, from floor 10 to 1 as my esteem and confidence plunge into the basement, crashing to a landing somewhere in the sub-basement level.

The first two things are examples of stuff I can get over or prevent. More schooling, more preparation and more time can fix those issues. But the last example is a constant shadow that needs to be banished forever. Of course I worried about this stuff when I was a child, but I seemed to grow out of it. But, in middle age, I am prey to those negative thoughts once again.

This summer, while at an event a friend who had been jump judging looked me up. And this friend with just a few words, said in the middle of light conversation, gave me the key to dispel these negative thoughts.

My friend, Pam Johnson, is a hoot. Twenty years ago she split her time between eventing and team roping. The combo of those sports is unusual enough, but Pam did both on the same horse, a wonderful grey gelding who evented under the name Magic Slate (I’m not sure what he was called in the team roping pen – those folks usually don’t  go in much for complicated show names. More often than not they stick with short, descriptive names like Baldy, Paint or Big Dummy).

Regardless, Pam was one busy woman. Often while hauling to events, she would stop off at a Friday night team roping jackpot, jump Slate out of the trailer and go win a few bucks before proceeding on to the event. “How else was I going to pay for gas,” she would explain to us short sighted idiots who owned horses who sucked up money and never earned dollar one.

Pam also has like five or six kids and when she wasn’t hauling herself and Slate around the Midwest, she was hauling the kids to rodeos and the like. In rodeo, as in any other sport there are bound to be disappointments, and kids often handle their setbacks in various ways. Pam was a no nonsense sort of mom who didn’t put up with much, and while we were reminiscing that summer afternoon about a particularly bad rodeo queen contest horsemanship test, which left her daughter in tears. She spilled her secret.

“I told Molly, ‘nobody cares about you.’ So you blew a lead and turned left at the cone instead of right and just sat in the middle of the arena until they asked you to leave the arena over the loud speaker.”

Pam continued, “We all have our own crap to worry about. And we all have to get ready to do whatever we need to do next. Folks don’t care what lead you were on or what direction you turned, nobody cares about you.”

Simple, yet profound.  And oh so true.

As soon as you drag a lead or chip in on fence three – in just a few rounds or maybe in the next class, someone else is bound to do the same.  We all make mistakes, and as colossal as ours may be there is always the next rider with the next blooper to take the heat off us. They will be sulking and brooding about their performance and won’t care one bit about your mistakes.

So remember, “nobody cares about you.” Trust me, you will be so much happier and much more confident.


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