When I was around 8 or 9 I had two ponies, one after the other. One was a liver chestnut called Tommy who was just so sweet. He “never put a foot wrong” as mum would say and he is to this day the only pony or horse that I never fell from.
Bobby, on the other hand was extremely cheeky, and was known for his “head down and bolt” character, which he actually did a few times to me in the warmup before a test. He would put his nose right between his two front legs and just gallop off, knowing that with his head down there you had absolutely no chance of stopping him.
You can probably guess which pony had the greatest impact on my childhood.
Bobby was my best friend, and while he was naughty he was equally talented and hilarious.
It’s interesting to look back now and see that some of my greatest rivals at school later became the people I respected the most. They challenged me to be better, and made me work harder for what I wanted.
I was talking to one of my best friends recently about how when you notice a truly gifted athlete who is “ahead of their time” or miles above the rest at any given moment, there is typically one other one constantly nipping at his heels. It is also common to see two greats arise from one sport at the same time, and I find this to not be mere coincidence. How much better can you be if someone else is constantly challenging you?
Australian’s are known for their ability to say very bluntly what is on their mind. This can be both good and bad depending on how the other person takes it. Quite often people don’t actually want your opinion they just want you to tell them what they want to hear. But if you are always told what you want to hear how do you better yourself?
Batialo has challenged me for 5 years, and I have grown as a person because of it. Most riders will tell you that the horse that made them a better rider was never the easy one.
The people in my life that stay there are those that I know will tell me the truth, or at least what they know to be true, and I respect it even if It’s not what I wished for.
Aside from those that challenge me, the people that make me laugh are the ones I love to be around. Audrey Hepburn said that the people who make her laugh are her favourite people and I have to agree.
I also love people who make me feel young, people I can just be myself around. Sometimes, when I’m joking with a friend, or laughing at something ridiculous, I am just there in that moment, and all the other worries seem to just drift away.
I have the same feeling when I’m on my horse, and he squats a butterfly with his front leg, or squeals because he hates the jumping.
If you don’t have someone who challenges you, you have to learn to challenge yourself, but remember that if you push away those you don’t agree with you will never have a different perspective.
So, thank you to the people who challenge me…who don’t agree with me, who compete against me, or who can make me laugh at absolutely nothing.