Perfection Is For Quitters

By Lead Bay Betsy Kelley

Whether you have grand prix goals or just want to become the best version of yourself as a rider, it all takes time and patience. We are naturally inclined to be creatures who seek instant gratification, and the uphill struggle and inevitable plateaus that come along with learning a high-level skill set can be daunting. Personally, I thrive on those moments where you finally nail something that has been eluding you; but trust me, I spend my fair share of time in the dredges. 

Diva at 28 (left) at her last show and Teddie at 6 (right) at his very first show.

When my mare retired at 29, I pivoted from a horse who had been a part of my heart and soul for over a decade to a neon green, spooky, un-trusting young gelding. I had ridden lots of babies in the past, but it was a harsh transition to change my “daily driver” from a horse who could read my mind and who I trusted implicitly to a horse who had NO IDEA what I wanted, or why, and was pretty sure it was all going to kill him. In the first 6 months I hung on for dear life through so many spook-and-bolt-sideways maneuvers that I started to forget what going in a straight line even felt like. On a good day it felt frustrating, on the worst day it felt completely demoralizing. I wish I could freeze-frame and rewind back 6 months to tell that mentally exhausted rider that all of her blood, sweat, and tears were going to pay off, and that she was going to actively love riding this horse, because I sure couldn’t see the forest through the trees while I was clinging on to a very athletic giant baby running for his life. 

I am the most stereotypical Type-A Perfectionist that you will ever meet. While this is an awesome trait when you channel it correctly, it can also be a total nightmare when it comes to starting something new. I want to be AWESOME, and I want to be awesome NOW. In a previous life working for a magazine, my editor repeated a phrase to me that has stuck with me ever since: “Don’t get it right, get it written.” This is important in so many parts of life other than just writing. You’re not going to be an instant savant at every new skill that you try. Becoming proficient, or even just becoming competent, is going to take time, and if I may quote a cartoon dog for a moment, “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” (Jake the Dog, Adventure Time)

It’s easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel when things aren’t magically falling into place. It’s hard to remember that anything worth having is worth working your ass off for. It’s essential to remember that if you stick with it, every day you’re a little better than the day before, so keep pushing yourself forward, even on the days that you feel defeated. The changes might not be easy to see on a day-to-day basis, but they are there, and in the long term you are going to be so much better for them, so don’t give up. You’ll thank yourself when it pays off, trust me.

Lead Bays:
Betsy & Teddie

(& Diva, & Jack Jack…)

Betsy is an Equestrian Blogger, Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Marketing Specialist. She also happens to be the creator and curator of Bits And Bays, as well as the owner of Sweet Stitch Embroidery.