The measure of success

People deemed “successful” in today’s world have achieved. Whether it be status, power or money, they have set goals or themselves and they have managed to reach them. The thing about this driven sort of approach, is that there are always caveats.

You achieve one thing, but it is almost always at the cost of another. You can work hard, long hours and bring in the money, but the downside is that you never see your family. You can be the top student in your class in terms of academic achievement, but you never have any fun. You can spend all your energy on being the best, fittest athlete and sports achiever, but you have to deny yourself some of the good and fun things in life that others take for granted. There are the odd ones that seem to have it all, but when you really talk to them and find out how they got where they are, all of them will tell you of the sacrifices they had to make in order to earn their success.

With this societal norm to focus on what we earn and what we deserve and have achieved, there is often little room for actually slowing down and enjoying this single life-time. Luckily, we all have different standards by which we measure our own success.

While the more spiritual among us are searching for ways to slow down, connect, and just remember to breathe, the more driven in society only push harder, work more, achieve more. Neither is wrong or right, one just has to be very clear with oneself what the standards are you use to gauge what you deem as successful.

I am one of those lucky few who have always had horses in my life. But by my own standards, I have never been particularly successful when it comes to horses, because I have never found a way to measure how successfully one is at living and breathing horses…I simply cannot live without horses in my life – I suspect I might be an addict.

got my first horse when I was ten years old. Since then I have never truly been without  a horse. I don’t know how one lives without horses. I’ve tried growing up and giving up horses twice before and failed fantastically at it.

For certain people, horses represent an income, a way to make a living. I have never made any money from a horse. For some people, horses are a sport, a means of recreation or achievement. Although I have competed, I have never been particularly good at it and I have never won anything. For some people, horses are a passion, a way of life. I have lived and worked on horse farms and ridden all sorts of equine beasties for all sorts of people, but no-one has offered me a great horse to ride to victory for them. At one point I thought I was quite good at working with and training youngsters, but as I’ve grown older, falling off just started to hurt too much, and since having had children, it does not seem worth the bruises!

I was too nervous to be a showjumper or an eventer. The massive jumps just scared me. It took me some time to figure that out and make peace with it. Then, I thought I would try my hand at dressage. Sitting on a horse, easy; dressage, hard! I used to get offended when people who knew nothing about horses sniggered at me for still needing lessons after having been riding for ten years. Now I just shrug them off, they have no idea! It has only taken me the last ten years to be able to understand my horse and my own body enough to even know what I’m trying to do.

Does the mere fact that I’ve always managed to have a horse, make me successful at being passionate about horses? Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself.

I’ve made sacrifices to have my horses. I’ve given up friends and other recreational activities. I’ve given up money – lots of money that I could’ve spent on many other things. And I’m not the only one. My family have given up things so that I could ride and have my own horse.So judging by how much I’ve given up, I must be successful.

But has it been worth it? A resounding : “YES”. It has. My horses and my experiences with horses have taught me lessons that I could not have learnt in any other way or place. They force you into introspection and scrutiny of yourself that seeps into the rest of your life without you even realising it. Being around horses all my life has made me a better person and enabled me to be more successful in every single other aspect of my life. I may not be goal-driven and a fierce business woman, but horses have taught me to slow down, relax and enjoy the ride!

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5 Responses to The measure of success

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