Busting the myths of success in the showjumping arena

By Annette Paterakis

Having been around in the showjumping sport for some time, I know how certain myths are still believed to be true – in fact I used to believe them myself.  We might still believe that successful riders have more talent, money and confidence, for example, but is that really true? Interviewing and talking to the best riders and trainers in this sport, they have helped me bust 4 common myths. Want to find out the truth?

1. Successful riders have an extraordinary natural talent

When watching successful riders compete, this mistake is easily made. You watch them go round and they make it seem so effortless and easy that you can only come to the conclusion that these riders are gifted and have something you don’t have. Which is partly true. Indeed they have something you might not yet have, experience. But looking at the ‘end’ result, and assuming that riders such as Mclain Ward and Laura Kraut have always been this competitive and talented would not do justice to their full and true story. In fact, Mclain describes himself as once being a “terrible pony rider” and admits it took a lot of hard work to get to where he is today. So don’t assume others have something you don’t, but if you stay hungry and foolish you might become the talented rider you aspire to be.

2. Successful riders are always confident

From the outside it might seem that top riders have unlimited confidence. And why wouldn’t they? They have won so much after all. However, nothing could be further from the truth. These riders have had their doubts and insecurities too, maybe even still have some today. But they have found a way to boost and improve their confidence and know how to tap into their most confident selves in order to ride at their best and win more. So instead of hoping that confidence will show up once you get those results, step into your most confident self. Take on a confident body posture, walk the course like Kent Farrington and fake it till you feel it.


“Step into your most confident self: take on a confident body posture, walk the course like Kent Farrington and fake it till you feel it.”


3. Successful riders come from a wealthy background

Another myth you might believe is holding you back, is that you don’t have the financial means to succeed. Of course, we all know this is an expensive sport and without good horses, it’s not easy getting to the top. But it’s not impossible. Many of the riders I interviewed who have been successful at the top in showjumping, come from humble backgrounds. They didn’t have what they have today, but they worked for it, focused on improvement, focused on opportunities and focused on what they needed to succeed. As a result, they improved, harnessed better opportunities and therefore gained access to better horses. So from now on, notice when you focus on the things you don’t have, and why you can’t succeed. Once aware, ask yourself: “is this thought helpful”? If the answer is ‘no’, shift to being grateful for what you do have and fully focus on what you want to achieve and how to get there.

4. Successful riders are graced with better circumstances

Similarly, the right circumstances are those you create. Though the right circumstances are very important, it is important to realize that, even if you are not in the right place, or you don’t have the right training, management or horses, know that this can change, when you change. The more you work on yourself and the more you learn and improve in every area that is important to success, the better the circumstances will become!