Why Compete? By Aaron Ralston
Some losin’s is right, some winnings wrong,” Wyle Gustafson Bob Dylan Bronc Song
By Testing ourselves against ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances we add a self monitor that allows us to check our progress. I work all my horses on a mechanical cow. This is a wonderful training device that allows me to predict situations while I teach my horse to stop, back up, roll back, move out, focus, etc… The mechanical cow consists of a flag attached to a cord hung on pulleys driven by a motor that is controlled by a remote held by the rider. When I push the button the flag moves, then my horse should make the corresponding move to the right or left. When I release the button the flag stops, therefore my horse should stop. When horse, rider, and flag are in sync there is an invisible leash connecting the three in unison as they perform a series of stops, 180 degree turns, accelerating, and decelerating in a varied sequence. I cannot tell you how many championships I have won in my own back yard! I’m a legend in my own mind! However, by simply handing my remote to someone else to operate, I lose most of my snap. Without knowing, by running the remote, I am setting myself up to win every time. No matter how hard I try not to, I am sending signals to my horse that says “we’re getting ready to stop,” or “I’m going to push the button now.” Subconsciously it is very difficult to judge the level of difficulty or responsibility we put on ourselves and our horses. Therefore, what we think is enough may just be the beginning.
What is competition?
Competition does not have to be a horse show or a race against another horse. Simply, competition should be a set of standards by which one guides themselves. The standards therefore have great influence on our perceived results. Consequently, you should choose them carefully. It is not about the blue ribbon; instead it is about evaluating the direction of your work and establishing deadlines for its attainment. Our standards may be too easy, such as holding the remote myself and never allowing my horse to assume the full responsibility. I will always compete as I need to be challenged and held to an honest evaluation of my progress. I don’t have to win the blue ribbon, but I need to know if I’m as good as I think I am!