As an NCAA equestrienne, Libby Collins of Fort Worth, Texas, received invaluable advice from her Oklahoma State University coach. Now the APHA summer publications intern, she shares the advice that’s helped her reach goals far beyond the arena:
Riding for Oklahoma State University’s Equestrian team was easily one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much about myself, bettered my riding skills, got a great education and received even better advice. My coach, Larry Sanchez, once told me, “Don’t ride not to lose, ride to win.” When I first heard this I didn’t fully grasp what it meant; I didn’t realize that it could apply not only to my riding, but also every aspect of college and life.
To me, “Don’t ride not to lose, ride to win,” means you have to ride with a positive goal in mind and always believe in yourself. Your attitude is everything in both collegiate equestrian and in life. Riding in college means you might draw a horse that can barely pivot or a horse that is a little wild. Having a positive attitude and telling yourself, “I am going to ride this horse well, and I am fully capable of winning,” is the first step toward having a great ride.
Traveling to other schools comes with the chance of getting a challenging horse. The horse descriptions that say, “Can get hot,” or “Be careful with your spurs,” are usually the horses girls don’t want. Instead of having the attitude of, “I hope I don’t get that horse,” it is important to teach yourself to think, “What am I going to do to get the most out of that horse if I get it?” Simply changing your mindset will drastically alter how your ride will go. For example, if you draw a horse that “Can get hot,” and you ride with the “not to lose” mindset, you are likely to remain tense and the horse will get hot and hard to control. However, if you ride with the “ride to win,” mindset and stay relaxed and confident, the horse will sense that and will be less likely to blow up underneath you. This is the same for other aspects of life as well.
This advice from my coach not only made me mentally stronger in the arena, it made me mentally stronger in all aspects of life. I started studying for tests with the mindset that I was going to ace them, which shifted my approach from feverishly cramming the night before, to starting to study a few days in advance. I applied for graduate school with the mindset that I was capable of getting into the school I wanted. I even took this piece of advice with me to our early morning workouts. I used to dread getting up at 5 a.m. to workout, sometimes questioning if it was really helping me; however, after hearing this piece of advice from Larry I quickly changed my mindset. I found myself running faster, lifting more weight and pushing myself much harder than I had in the past and like the coaches always told us, I did see an improvement in my riding.
Looking back on the tough rides that I won and the tests I aced, I know my coach’s advice benefitted me more than I initially thought it would. Whether it was in the classroom or in the arena, it is important to always keep a positive mindset. You are more likely to succeed if you believe in yourself.
[Reprinting all of part of this story is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provide back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.