We thought about making a big list of the top things to do, gear to buy, or horse shows to go to in 2020. We like making lists, and probably could have made a pretty great one about any of those previously mentioned topics.
The end of the year certainly deserves a big blog post - heck, this time around it’s even the start of a whole new decade! When we really thought about it though, there’s one thing we really ought to do to start the next year off on the right foot - get excited about it.
The end of the year (and, thus, the start of a new year) for most people usually involves some amount of dread. It could be related to all of the things you didn’t get done over the last year, or things you know you have coming up in the next year, or just stuff you’re worried about in general as that oppressive feeling of ‘year-end’ seems to loom ever closer.
It’s easy to forget that, oh yeah, you also did a lot of really awesome, impressive, cool, and exciting things over the last year, too. Well here’s your official directive to dwell on the cool things you did in 2019 (the big things AND the little things), and to march into the new decade with your eyes and heart focused firmly on the good stuff.
Your life, even the “bad” parts, is pretty amazing. Most of the small things that make up your life are equally amazing - trail rides, early morning yoga classes, jumping lessons with your barn mates, time spent grooming your horse, movie marathons, friends, donuts, burritos, horse shows, dogs, smiles …even the coffee you had this morning was pretty fantastic, wasn’t it? Were you excited about all of these amazing little things over the last year?
Kurt Vonnegut, in a 2003 speech to students at the University of Wisconsin, said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
In 2020, we urge you to notice when something is awesome, as it often is, and make a mental note of it (or better yet, say it out loud to your friend, trainer, horse, or an innocent bystander). Isn’t it pretty freaking amazing that we get to spend time around HORSES? Most people only SEE horses a handful of times over the course of their entire lives, let alone actually get to touch one.
And not only do we get to spend time around them…but we actually get to ride them? Over jumps? In competitions?! As a TEAM?! It’s absolutely incredible, really. Downright unbelievable. And that’s the attitude we should have every single day, from the moment we wake up to when our heads hit the pillow.
People can disagree with things like quality, your taste in food, your favorite movies, or whether a hunter round was good or not. But no one can argue with or be critical of your enthusiasm, especially when you wear it loud and proud. Do you think the class you just finished was the greatest course you and your horse have ever produced? Awesome! If someone tries to tell you it wasn’t, who cares? “My Greatest Showjumping Round Ever” is not an objective title - it’s YOUR title.
So when you’re excited about a round (or a dressage test, or a flat lesson, or a trail ride), go ahead and be thrilled about it. Sure, the judge may have a differing level of enthusiasm about your round, but in the end, that’s just another person’s opinion. You know whose opinion about your performance carries much more weight? Your own.
It’s your ride, it’s your progress, it’s your enthusiasm. If you’re thrilled with it, be thrilled with it! Being enthusiastic about the wicked awesome sport that we do and all of the little things that go along with it is just about as wholesome as you can get, and if someone tries to put you down for that, then that reflects pretty dang poorly on them.
Never be afraid of sharing your excitement, either. Enthusiasm disarms criticism. Might people think you’re weird or wrong for enjoying something and sharing how excited you are about it? Maybe! Do their opinions on your level of excitement matter? Nope! “Worrying about what other people might think” is really a fancy way of saying you’re wasting time that could be spent being excited about things you enjoy.
Go forth and enjoy your stuff. Share it, post about it, and talk excitedly about it with as many people and hand gestures as possible.
While you’re at it, spread a little of that awesome positive attitude around, too. It’s not illegal to offer people a high-five. Do you use a lot of exclamation points in your e-mails and texts? Well, why not? Most people like it when other people are nice to them. This includes baristas, in-gate managers, retail personnel and horse show office ladies.
It costs absolutely nothing to share a little of that enthusiasm you’re cultivating with people around you. You might just make a new friend, who might just go out of their way to let you know the under-saddle class is going 15 minutes early. You smile, they smile, the world is a better place. Way to go! (Now would be a good time for that high-five).
An outlook on life that’s filled to the brim with enthusiasm for what we do is definitely something we want to carry with us as we enter a new decade. This doesn’t mean we need to act like caffeinated cheerleaders every minute of every day, though. Riding, just like life, has its ups and downs, good days and bad days.
A commitment to embracing enthusiasm will look different to every person. All we ask is that when you’re tacking up, out on trail, or heading into the show ring, maybe take a moment to think to yourself: “Dang, this is pretty freakin’ awesome.”
Because it is! And so are you.