Leaping out of bed the second your alarm sounds, it's still dark on a very early Saturday morning, but who's sleeping anyways? You have too much excitement mixed with nerves to sleep anyhow. Heading to the show grounds on level ten energy while most of the world is still sleeping, you’re hopeful all your hard work with your partner will pay off on this very expensive day.
You unload your 4 legged partner and get them situated at the grounds, while your anxiety and anticipation starts to slowly raise, your show time creeps much too quick for your liking. Thinking you had plenty of free time to get ready, you're rushing to saddle your horse and get on for a quick warm up before your scheduled class. Stomach in knots and with a lump in your throat, you whisper to your hoofed partner; "we got this, you can do this". Not that they speak our language, but I do feel they have some sort of idea that this isn't just a normal schooling or practice that you've done time after time. Out you go, like a seal swimming in the ocean, alone, vulnerable, being watched by the sharks standing on the side lines. You try to swallow that giant lump in your throat and only hope at this point you make it back still on your steed. Kicking off, as your anxiety starts to fade and your surroundings blur out of your mind. You are present, in the moment, you and your partner tackling the competition like a lion after a gazelle. You pull up to a stop, exit with a giant smile on your face as if you had won the gold medal at the little show you attended. Over joyed with adrenaline and excitement you give your partner several giant pats and a hug to thank him for performing his best and keeping you safe. Anxiously awaiting the results, still thinking you won, only to find out you placed out of the standings. Your smile fades to a disappointed frown, as you feel defeated and bummed that you didn't even make the top 5.
Walking back to the trailer, replaying the day in your mind, your frown turns into a smile as you realize you didn’t lose at all; you actually won. You won that dance of accomplishing what you’ve worked so hard for for so long. So what if you didn’t win by what society defines is a win. A win is not labeled by a ribbon, but an accomplishment. Let's face it, having a horse as a partner is not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s the countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears; well maybe more of sweat and tears then blood. You trained that horse, you built that relationship that turned into a wonderful partnership and it showed. So, they can keep their fancy ribbons, the memory created today will serve as a timeless keepsake. One for the win.