By Margie Sugarman
Margie Sugarman is a leading board-certified psychotherapist and sports consultant based in New York. Margie’s desire is to enhance performance through the connection between the mind and body, and her current client list includes Olympic, professional and amateur athletes across the country. Her experience employing various therapeutic modalities has helped equestrians win classics, junior medals and grand prix. Do you have a question you want Margie to answer? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I haven’t been riding for as long as some of my friends. I developed an interest in horses pretty late in the game, but I’m fully devoted to learning everything I need to know. I’ve competed in some less-recognized competitions and shows and have placed. However, my friends blow it off because the names of these shows aren’t “prestigious.” While I’m happy that I’m being recognized for my talent at these smaller shows, their view toward them is undermining my confidence. Do you feel that I should not compete in these “lesser-known” shows and just wait for the “big name” shows?
Most people believe that all athletes began playing sports right out of the womb — practicing their craft at all times. This certainly is exemplified through the paths of many major athletes. For example, most professional basketball players would shoot hoops in their driveways, local gyms or anywhere they could find a game. Most major league baseball players played Little League. Olympic swimmers probably began swimming in their backyard pools, at a local swimming hole or at a community pool. Sports, however, are beneficial even for the late bloomer. Why? They often can and do recreate and re-define an individual. Physical activity and participation in a sport keeps your mental skills sharp. Why? The physical activity triggers chemicals that can make you feel good.
Even though you started riding later in life than your friends, you shouldn’t downplay the achievements you’ve reached. You appear to have progressed quite well. You must remember that your skills were learned at a later point in life when fears were more likely to invade your endeavors than when you were young. You’ve achieved recognition, probably at the local level. You enjoyed yourself, met the challenges and pursued your love of the sport.
Let’s look at this again: You began riding at an older age, on the local level and you’re building your confidence and progressing at an appropriate speed. If your “friends” are blowing off your success and not acknowledging your progress, I wonder why you’re friends with them. They should be applauding you for your success and determination, having begun so much later than they did. They should be rooting you on to continue so you can join them at “their” recognized shows. They should be sharing in your successes, not undermining them.
You serve as an example of how an interest shouldn’t be age-limiting, but rather, motivating. Continue your riding and learn all you can. As you perfect each challenge, you’ll move on to the next one. I can’t wait to see your friends’ faces when you collect that blue ribbon at one of those “prestigious” shows. You and your trainer will know when that time will be. You go, girl!