‘I Don’t Lose. I Either Win or I Learn.’

Kristen Pierce talks sportsmanship values and why you should have them.

Top photo: Flickr/ClatieK/CC

From Kristen:

I don’t lose. I either win or I learn.

Getting caught up in the moment of showing can be a fault of just about every rider who enters the show ring. Of course, it is natural to want to place first, second or even third. However, when the day comes when you don’t place high in the ribbons, you should still be courteous and extend your congratulations to the winner or, quietly exit the show ring and reflect on your class. Perhaps, take a note pad and jot down what you feel you could have improved on. Was it your equitation? Your time? Your horse’s behavior?

Whatever the reason is for not coming out on top, it is important to take ownership of your actions and accept the place you pinned. The lessons we learn throughout our lifetime stay with us as they continue to amount. Having good sportsmanship skills is something we all learn from our very early days of elementary school and even pre-school. We learn to share, we learn to help and, most of all, we learn from our mistakes.


Take criticism constructively and you’ll be sure to pin higher at the next show. Have an open mind and listen to the advice of others. Even better would be to attend more schooling shows where you can kindly talk to the judges about your performance after your class and see what you can or need to improve on for the next show. If you only show at timed events, well, you can’t argue with a timer! Don’t be hard on yourself and definitely do not take out your frustration on your horse.

For those who take home the blues, don’t be cocky. Don’t make others feel that you are superior to them. Having good sportsmanship isn’t just something preached to sore losers or those who don’t place high in the ribbons. It is something for all competitors to understand and to have as part of their morals. Maintaining this skill will earn you brownie points from your equine community for sure. However, the utmost importance for having good sportsmanship is to be true and stay true to yourself. You can’t be true to your horse if you aren’t true to yourself. After all, this is a team sport.

Get out there and win or learn.

Ride Safe!


Kristen is a versatile equestrian who grew up as a western pleasure rider. Since then, she has expanded her interest in almost everything from (but not limited to) barrel racing, hunter/jumper, eventing and her newest feat, extreme trail. Plainly speaking, her life revolves around her two horses. Kristen’s youngest horse, Ace, is a 4-year-old Quarter Horse/Haflinger cross who she trained herself since he was a yearling. Kristen is also a huge rescue advocate for all animals. You can bet that both of her horses are rescues as well!


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