Is Comparison Stealing Your Joy?

There seems to be some doubt about who the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” can be attributed to. It’s often said to be Theodore Roosevelt, but a quick Google cast doubt on that. Regardless of who first said it I think it’s worth spending a little while thinking about.

The equestrian world can be a hotbed of “comparisonism” (I don’t think that is a real word but I hope you get my meaning!).

Who has the fanciest horse? Who’s got the latest matching set of saddle cloth and bandages? Who is getting coaching from the current favourite trainer? Who attends the popular clinics and camps? Who is rising up the levels in affiliated competition? Who’s the bravest?

It can be so easy to look at other riders and then begin to feel inadequate, or “less”, in comparison but does this have to be the case?

So many riders who consult me for help with confidence and mindset support ,tell me that they often feel pressure to do things which they, don’t necessarily, want to do. Perhaps for them riding was originally seen as a way to spend time with the horses they love and have a bit of fun, exercise and fresh air but, before they know it, they are feeling pressurised into entering into activities which other riders on their yard take part in and which don’t really motivate them.

Of course, if a rider wishes to train and compete then I’m all for helping them with the psychological aspects of the sport. I’m also all for helping a rider who simply wishes to ride a couple of times a week, and fit that round other interests or commitments, to be able to truly enjoy their chosen activities.

I’d love the horse world to be filled with people who accept, and respect, other rider’s choices whatever those may be. I also look forward to a time when each rider can be happy and comfortable with their individual choices.

Rider A might have a goal of hacking out in the local countryside, enjoying the scenery and the time with her horse. If this rider repeatedly compares herself with Rider B who’s goals involve regular competition and training then she may well question her choices negatively. Likewise, if Rider B is comparing herself to Rider C who is training and competing under FEI rules then, again, that comparison may well be affecting her joy in her own choices.

My advice is to avoid these comparisons, set your own goals and enjoy your own choices whilst seeking out appropriate support if your choices don’t bring you that, longed for, JOY.