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Coping Mechanisms

A real photograph of Lady trying to deal with me as her rider

I had a terrible show this past weekend, like all that talk of strong mental game, believing in your unicorn, and all that other glittery shit I preach... it disappeared. *Poof* Gone. I went to look for it directly before my first run on Saturday, but no surprise here, it was nowhere to be found. Pro-tip - you shouldn't go looking for your mental game, nor your glitter, as they are calling your name to walk to the herd. It will stress you out even more. Basically I really just didn't ride my mare well. You could say that my timing was in another time zone. My blessed unicorn... my sweet pony angel... if you don't ride her well, she won't try for you. She isn't the most forgiving unicorn, she's more of a feet to the fire unicorn. On Saturday, I lost ALL THREE cows I cut, ALL OF THEM. If I could have gotten off of Lady right there, and curled up in the dirt in front of the herd and sacrificed myself to the cutting gods... I would have. Cutting sucks.

So over the course of two days, I spent $545.00 I didn't really have to mark a big, fat zero, and a nice, chubby 66. I was devastated. This sport is really tough sometimes, I think all of us know that. Like i've said before, there are so many factors that make it hard, and that can throw you off your apparent "game". So what do you do when you lose your game? Well, you cope. Here are some of With A Western Twist's favourite coping mechanisms for when you have a terrible show...

1. Cry

If you want to tell me that you are a beginner and you've never had a really good ugly cry after a run, then I don't want to know you. Like, I mean, I've never used this particular coping mechanism but when three cows run you over and you look up to your corner help and they said, "some days it just doesn't work" with that sad, pitying you, look in their eyes... it's okay if you cry. Sixties and tears people. My personal favourite version of the ugly cry is bursting into uncontrollable sobbing before you even make it to the parking lot and letting your mascara blacken your cheeks and then having people ask you why you look so tired for the rest of the day. Bonus points if you call your significant other/trainer/mother/father/best friend/anyone who will listen to you and attempt to say the words "I'm going to sell this horse" but can't get it out before the uncontrollably heaving starts again.

2. Drink

Ah, alcohol. The best coping mechanism of all. You know what, you just had a bad run, and now you're way poorer than you were when you woke up, but who cares, go out and spend even more money on alcohol. Drink a bunch of beer, watch your run over and over and convince yourself that you are Matt Gaines and your horse is a donkey that came straight from the firey depths of hell, and then pass out in your show clothes. Bonus points here if you wake up in the morning and realize that not only did you not figure out how to score a 78 in your drunken stupor last night, but now you need to show today with a hangover, and puffy eyes.

3. Be Mean

If you know me, you know this is a personal favourite coping mechanism of mine. My favourite way to really play this one out is to have someone that really cares for me and loves me tell me that I'm a great rider, and that it's just a bad day, and there will be good shows in the future... then I yell at them and tell them they are stupid and wrong and this is a bad life and there will never be any good shows, and that i'm quitting cutting for good and i'm actually done this time and I HATE everything and I'm going to take up knitting and knit myself a coffin and bury myself in my knitted coffin. -End Scene-

4. Blame

How to be an immature loser 101 - blame anyone you can for your shitty run except for yourself. Your horse is definitely target enemy number one in this equation, but don't worry, your help isn't safe either. "My right turn back guy couldn't figure out from my wild sword fighting I wanted the red mott, not the black baldy." "My corner guys couldn't save me from flushing the herd because my horse falls back so bad, they suck, i'm never using them again." You can blame your trainer, you can blame your loved ones, you could literally blame the guy in the stands with the distracting orange ball cap on. Whoever even exists ... blame them. Go for it. It feels good.

5. Listen

Okay, so now you've rolled through all your coping mechanisms... You are drunk, and/or hungover, you have super puffy eyes, you have alienated everyone around you. Your horse literally refuses to believe they were saddled with this dingus of a rider. So now, it is time to listen. For me this weekend that came in the form of a good friend who shows in the same class as me. She struggles with many of the same things I do in the show pen as a beginner and we hash out our issues and problems with our unicorns to each other and she always makes me feel better.

Major key here - find you one of these friends, they make the cutting pen a better place. I am super thankful to have her.

Anyways, because she's my friend that makes me feel better, we watched my video together and I was expecting her to tell me my horse is a donkey, and that I'm Matt Gaines and all those other things I wanted to hear. Instead she says to me, "Yeah, you really could have ridden her better there. You were totally fine, you could have easily held that cow. You knew you were a little late, why didn't you just kick her there? Like just harpoon her!" I looked at her, my sweet unicorn-sister, who just told me that in fact, I am NOT Matt Gaines and my horse is NOT a Donkey and I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of my life. She was right, obviously, I should have just trusted that my horse had it under control and kicked her over there. It was my fault. I should have ridden her better.

So, although the above coping mechanisms may work for the 24 hours after a terrible run in the show pen, they probably wont help you in the long run. Instead, my advice for all of us glitter-scrubbing riders out there? Find a good group of people, a great coach, better friends, people who "get" it. People who cry when they have shit runs too. Try not to be mean to them when you are in a bad place after a run. Instead, sit down with them and have them be real with you, be real with them when they have bad runs, build each other up and support each other. Gently remind each other that this is... sort of.. kind of... you know... a hobby... and that maybe we all need to just chill out a little, take it as a bad day and walk away from it. Plus, if you want, you're allowed to have beers with them after, gossip a little, bullshit a bit more, forget about your bad run because there ARE good ones coming in the future... I still support that form of coping mechanism.

#CuttingHorseShow #CuttingHorse #BeginnerRider #NoviceCompetitor

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