The Art of Failure
There are so many ways to talk philosophically about how to deal with “failure.” From a couple of wrong steps in a lesson or a dressage test/show jump round, to a serious miscommunication in a competition, or even a fall, “failures” are often good, but they can make us feel bad.
Failures are positive; we just have to look at them the right way.
My mom has told me for years about a story of the lady that invented Spanx. She was on Oprah one day, many years ago, and when she was asked what her key to success was, she said that a big part of it was her dad asking her every day, “What did you fail at today?”
Sometimes, that memory is very far away and hard to hold onto. But, in my lucky moments of clarity (in the midst of failure), I reach to that memory to drive me to continue to find success out of failure, whether large or small.
Today, I both succeeded and failed. I took my two good horses to have a practice show jump round at a local schooling show. Possum had some very good moments and pieces that were greatly improved. She also had 3 down…in my first attempt…and more in the second. So, even though she improved to an extent and theoretically jumped well, in part, I was left disappointed emotionally because of the rails. My ultimate drive to try to fix the problems before Stableview CCI2*-S next weekend left me missing the bigger picture: her confidence in the ring and how to deal with it. More practice isn’t always better. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Leo, on the other hand, went in and had one rail due to a small miss that I made. The rest of his round was essentially a piece of cake—a success.
Failure and success.
Today I failed, failed again….and then, I was successful. So, I’m going to take what I learned from Possum to help her in the future. I will be using that information to take the kinds of steps SHE needs to be successful and trying to be appreciative of the progress she has made. She is still young, and talented, and I believe it will all come together!
I will also take the progress I have made with Leo and use that to boost my confidence (a little) going into a big weekend at Stableview. Reminding myself that, although sometimes the process is hard, it is rewarding and if you just put your head down and go back to work, success will find you. You just have to be appreciative of the level of success, no matter how small, and honest in the admission of failure.
I strive to be the very best I can be for my horses, but I accept that I am human and I am attempting to ride and train animals that have their own brains and instincts. I must take the good with the bad and use it to my advantage for their future. I love the process even in the hard “failure” days. Here’s to hoping that I can achieve the kind of success I want because I’m willing to fail on my way there!
Leo had a great XC school today! Excited for this week.
Lisa Barry is a five-star event rider who has been riding and competing horses for 29 years, and has 16 years of international competition experience. Her horses have had top placings at many FEI events including at the Advanced/CCI4*/CCI5* level. Lisa has trained with Karen O’Connor for 25 years, and has worked for and ridden with Karen and David since she joined the O’Connor program as a working student when she was 17. Lisa competed at the 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event aboard her beloved FIS Prince Charming, aka “Peanut,” a tiny, feisty New Zealand OTTB. Lisa is currently training and coaching out of Lexington, Kentucky and Ocala, Florida. If you have questions for Lisa or would like to learn more about her program email her at email@example.com