This is an expanded look at the values I have learned from horses and the horse world as first described in the blog post: Why Use Horses?
While I was in college, I had the privilege and honor to meet Olympic athlete Karen O’Connor. She and her husband, David O’Connor, are both team and individual medalist at multiple World Games and Olympics in the Equestrian 3-Day Event (which is a grueling sport for both horse and rider). Karen came to little Midway College in Kentucky to do a riding clinic and to share about her life and accomplishments. A handful of us Equine Studies students were able to have a question and answer time with her, which was incredible. She actually passed around her silver medal from the Atlanta games and let us all hold it in our hands. It was what I am sure was and will be my first and only time holding an Olympic medal. During the Q and A time, a student asked Karen what it was like competing against her husband and vying for top selection spots. Karen smiled and gave an answer I will never forget. She said that she didn’t compete against her husband; she competed against the test, the course. She wasn’t out to beat David, but rather she was out to beat the test and give the best that she could on any given day. That advice has stuck with me. Every time I am in a horse show and look over at a fancier, more expensive horse or a stronger, more talented rider, I remember her words and tell myself that I am out to beat the course and give it my all.
This advice transfers over to other areas of my life, too. There is always someone more talented than me, someone smarter, and someone more attractive. There is always someone else who seems to have it all together and who seems to trust in God more than I do. But, I shouldn’t and can’t compare myself to others. It’s not a competition against them, but instead it’s about me running the race set before me and keeping my eyes focused on Jesus. It’s about me taking on the challenge to take on this course of life and give it my all. Good thing is - in this race, in this test – I don’t have to go it alone. God promises to give me the strength I need to endure and see it through to the end.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:1-3