Horse Agility and the Art of Winning

by Vanessa Bee – Founder of the Horse Agility Club

 

First published December 2014

 

As the year draws to a close and The Horse Agility Club Team begin to gather the final Championship and Special awards together my thoughts have turned to winning.

Winning a competition, coming first, is an admirable achievement, but is winning first place what this is all about?

This is a competitive Club but we have many members who tell us they compete only to give them a focus every month, to enjoy the social side and just spend quality time with their horses. Being first is not their goal (though it’s nice if it happens!)

In my book winners have a huge responsibility not to discourage other competitors, their win should inspire others to strive to improve, to become the best that they can be.

There is an art to winning well.

But not everyone has to be a World Champion to be a winner.

 

The following comments were received about a young boy, we’ll call him Adam (not his real name), and in the past he has struggled to find his place in the world. Adam’s mother told his Horse Agility trainer:

 

“…I know you must get tired of hearing it, but I can’t believe how much Adam benefits from the work you do together. You are amazing. The way he has grown and the skills he has achieved could not be rivalled in the most lauded of Autism Intervention strategies. It just makes me cry with happiness some days.’

 

His trainer then added:

‘What’s most outstanding about his patterns is the fact that I don’t have to tell him which obstacle is next anymore.  He is remembering the whole pattern, and that’s really something!  His mother was telling me that as a small child,  they had to rub his whole body every 2 hours, and compress every one of his joints, so that his brain could begin to make the connections.  He had to sleep under a 10 pound compression blanket to help keep that connection. They had to teach him to walk in a straight line by following 2 lines on the basement floor.  If he wasn’t following those lines with each foot, he would fall down!  He flapped his hands and twirled and spun because his brain didn’t connect to his hands and feet.

 

Now, to see him run beside a horse, controlling his energy and a rope, as the horse goes over a jump brings tears to her eyes.  He’s defying all the odds, and Horse Agility is a huge part of that!  He can see instantly by the horse’s reaction if he has too much energy, or not enough, and that the horses will always do what he asks, but not always what he wants!  They give him time to rethink their reactions and then respond accordingly.  What wonderful teachers they are!

 

He hasn’t been able to take part in other sports, so Horse Agility has given him something of his own…something to be proud of!  It’s so good for his self esteem and his focus, as well as the physical training.  It’s such a joy to see his progress!’

 

Is winning all about being first? I think Adam’s story has answered that one.

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