Wednesday, June 5, 2019

dare to struggle

I read an article the other day about the Major League Baseball player whose foul ball hit a small girl in the grandstands. The player, Albert Amora, Jr., apparently has two very young children of his own. And watching his own fouled ball strike another child shook him to his core. It made the news, I'm sure you saw it. He was devastated.

Thankfully, from what the news says, the little girl looks to be ok.

i love how every thoroughbred is one crazy deep breath away from looking emaciated
I am a bit of a general sports enthusiast, sports of all kinds. Sports with balls. Sports with sticks. On land or at sea. Sports with chains or gears, motors and drive trains. So I read sports news. And one piece on this particular incident really spoke to me.

Ted Berg wrote a great piece about the incident, and its safety implications, for USA Today. His point was specific to that particular type of accident, how the players feel, what the unions have to say, and why some solutions haven't been implemented. In short. It's an opinion piece on major league baseball. So, ya know, not your standard 'Fraidy Cat Eventing fare.

oooh hoo hooo, what have we here???? 
A couple things stood out to me from that article. Well. Ok. Let's be honest, the entire first paragraph spoke to my soul:

"They play a game of failure, as the old saying goes, and I’m sure if anyone could examine and quantify such a thing, they’d find that as many would-be big-leaguers are derailed somewhere along the way by a lack of psychological resilience as by a lack of physical skills. "

why, it's a practice braid!!
"When these guys rattle off platitudes about “taking it one day at a time” and “just focusing on my next at-bat,” they’re not lying. Baseball is built to ruin you. Outside of exceptions so rare you can already conjure up their names — Steve Blass, Chuck Knoblauch, Mackey Sasser, Rick Ankiel — guys who reach the Majors are incredibly good at moving on from misfortune."

.............. Am I alone in feeling that those sentiments translate directly, immediately and intimately to what it means to be a competitive horseback rider??

Also, who else is reminded of what Dan told me about how all the "Greats have Short Memories" all those years ago?!?

sullen horse is sullen
Baseball is a quintessentially American sport. Uh, maybe for good reason haha. Cough cough. Ahem. In very very (very) broad strokes, the game requires 9 innings, with each team accomplishing 3 players out per inning.

Strictly speaking, that means 27 player rounds per game, tho in practice with imperfect pitchers, that range is closer to 30-50 at-bats. The number of players in the lineup means that most get 3, maybe 4 at-bats a game (sometimes more).

the dressage horse in his native territory?
If a player is batting well, we're basically thrilled when they've got a roughly 1-in-3 chance of scoring the points units. By and large, tho, most players are not scoring points every at-bat. Actually, most aren't scoring points more than once every 4-5 at-bats. If that.

pictured: emma sits in a saddle
Those are.... tough margins. Ya know? Like Ted says above, it's a game of failure, sprinkled liberally with misfortune.

Not so coincidentally, I feel similarly about my history with Charlie. Haha. Hahahaha. Sob.

pictured: some other saddle
In a way, tho, reading that helped me free my mind a bit. Horses and baseball aren't exactly a realistic comparison, but lets try for a second, ok? What would it mean for every ride to score a "point"? Am I the only one who walks away from a ride feeling a sorta binary "yes/no" on whether the ride was good?

But like.... those "no" rides really drag me down. Really grind on me. I know it's part of the process, but to be perfectly honest I wish every ride could be a "score." The baseball example tho actually gives me a degree of peace in the process.

pictured: the moment i forgot to highlight from yesterday's jump lesson when charlie went strutting around in complete #freebird style at 0:50 in the video..... check it out bc you'll never ever EVER see homeboy look that loose and free in an actual dressage test LOL. i'd make it a gif but he's too far away so it'd be too small. watch the vid and enjoy ;)
When you're working with those sort of odds, the conversation moves away from "scoring every time" to "what are the parameters I can improve to make scoring more probable?" Thus, some days must be for fitness, practice, reflexes, cardio. Some days are for reaffirming strengths, and some days are for pushing limits.

This suits my own personal approach to horses really well, while also helping me redefine what "success" looks like along the way.

Not every day is going to score points. In fact, most won't. But damn if I don't enjoy those days all the same anyway. Bc the odds are ever not in my favor, apparently, so fuck 'em, right??


  1. I find it amazing how themes seem to coalesce in the blogosphere. Or maybe it’s the ‘buy a yellow car and see them everywhere ‘ phenomen. But this resonates with me. I too do the binary evaluation and the ‘no’ grinds on me too. It’s a real struggle to keep it in perspective. But I think I’m getting there. Maybe.

    1. omg the yellow car analogy is spot on haha! tho yea, i think you're right in seeing these themes repeat across the community. riding is hard, struggling is hard, perspective is HARD, and we all kinda have to grapple with it in our own ways. it's important to talk about tho, i think!

  2. Ahhh I love this way of looking at it, yes!!!!

    (Also, what the HELL MLB, the players have been asking for more netting since *2007*???)

    1. omg, right? i was shocked to read that too.... and yea i think we all kinda have to deal with the struggle of not always feeling phenomenal about this demanding and expensive activity we choose to do, ya know?

  3. This is a really great analogy!!

    And I totally agree about the "one deep breath away from looking emaciated". Annie isn't even full TB and I swear when she sucks up or breathes deeply I'm standing there shoveling more food into her, haha.

    1. lol these horses always like to keep us guessing!

  4. Replies
    1. thanks - it's always interesting to me how much psychology translates across different sports or endeavors...

  5. I actually did not hear about this happening (ball striking kid) but I tend to not follow sports in the news except horse racing which I don't even want to go there with Santa Anita right now.

    Thanks for sharing an interesting article

    1. yea i basically only follow the sports that i'm particularly interested in, tho this particular incident made the front page headlines in a lot of places, well beyond the sports sections. so it caught my eye

  6. Interesting analogy - something about horses as an ammy is so black/white or something. Very important to remember to look at it differently if we can. And also, I miss playing baseball (played as a kid/teenager)...funny that also popped up in my brain as I'm reading this... :-)

    1. ha i played softball as a kid but can't say i really miss it.... my coach called me his "secret weapon" bc i was too short for anybody to throw me a strike, so i always walked on base lol. other than that, tho, can't say i had a natural talents for the game!!

  7. Interesting way to look at it. The adult ammy horse life is such a complex one. I don’t know any other adult non professional sport where the stakes are so high yet they are all self imposed. Bowling, bar softball leagues, soccer, volleyball you name it and a lot of people go out and have a really good time, win some, lose some and move on. In horse though it’s such a killer mental game. Look at me. I have zero at stake here. I make no money off horses in either competing, training or sales, yet I get so down when he doesn’t act perfectly. What does it even matter if he does?!? But it does matter to me. Too much really.

  8. I don't get the baseball talk at all because that is just not a thing here, but I get where you're coming from with the mental resilience and trying to stop the binary yes/no ride mentality.

    I do that too, and a bad ride weighs on me so much.


Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have trouble with this form, please email: fraidycat.eventing at gmail.