• Maddy Brown

What My Team Taught Me about Myself in 2018

Over the years, I've done a lot of riding alone. As a kid, I started riding at a large barn in private lessons and on my own with my mom to supervise me. Then, I moved to another big barn where I rode mostly by myself but sometimes hacked out with a friend or rode in an occasional semi-private lesson. For a brief period, I kept my horse at a barn where I was the only rider at all. In high school, I rode with trainers to whom I shipped in for lessons while the rest of my riding time was home alone as one of the only English riders at my barn.

All of this alone time was fine with me, as I'm a pretty introverted person and I love just being with the horses, but I always longed for a true team atmosphere. I did grow up watching The Saddle Club, after all, and I wished more than anything to ride at a barn like Pine Hollow (but without a Veronica). I vowed that when I grew up and had my own program, I would encourage a true barn family atmosphere that I had always wanted for myself. After riding on the NCEA team at USC, that feeling grew and I wanted to provide my future students with a real team feeling. Finally, in 2018, I feel that that was really truly accomplished at The Farm at One Under Lane, and I'm so grateful for and proud of what we have. But what I really didn't foresee was all that creating and being a part of this team would teach me about myself.

You see, in previous scenarios, I have had to be everything because I was on my own. A big lesson I learned this year is that there is strength in delegation. I used to think that not being able to handle it all on my own was a sign that I was failing or coming up short, that there was weakness in having to ask for help. What I've learned is you don't have to be everything. You can't be everything. There is strength in admitting that you need help and being able to hand off tasks to someone else.

The most important factor? Making sure there are people you trust to whom to hand those tasks! I am so fortunate to have an incredible team full of individuals I can trust to make it go. Delegating tasks at horse shows such as morning feeding, getting show numbers, or keeping track of rings makes me more effective: I can spend my time and energy on ensuring my students and their mounts are ready for peak performance in the ring.

Another major thing I learned, that I think had the most direct effect on my success this season, was what works for me at shows from a mental skills standpoint. I have been getting more and more into sports psychology in the last two years, stemming from some anxiety issues I dealt with in years past. I wanted to know what would help me get in my zone and how to figure out exactly what that zone was. In previous years, I haven't been able to figure that out due to how many hats I constantly wore at the horse shows. There pretty much was no zone! This year, though, was different.

Having delegated team members to help me allowed me to discover what works best for me, and as the year wore on, I literally got it down to a science. My routine might be another blog post, but what's important to take away here is that having the opportunity to learn this about myself is thanks entirely to the team that supports me and had a direct impact on making this my most successful season ever. Another major awesome point to note is that my team learned my routine with me, and constantly helps to ensure that everything goes according to plan and I'm able to get in my zone. Yes, they're the bomb!

Finally, I would say what my team really taught me about myself this season is the value of self-worth. I learned this season what it feels like to have a team that truly stands behind me and genuinely wants to see me do my absolute best. Your circle should want to see you win. Your circle should clap the loudest when you have good news. If they don't, get a new circle. If your people don't make you feel like you've won even when you didn't, you owe it to yourself to find new people. There's no better feeling than finishing the round of your life and hearing the whooping and hollering of your people on the sidelines. There's also no better feeling than coming back to the barn after a bad trip and knowing they're all still proud of you. Celebrating is better with others, and losses are easier to take with them, too.

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