It’s the Rich Kid’s Fault… Or The Judge’s. Never Your Own.

She won, again. It’s because the judge liked her horse. She can’t really ride, anyway. She didn’t even buy that horse, her parents did. If I had a horse like that, I’d definitely win.

How many times have you heard yourself say that? Whether it’s in your head or to a close friend, we’ve whispered words just like that. It isn’t something we’re proud of, so we don’t mention it but you better believe we’ve all done it. How easy it is to blame our discontent on someone else.

It isn’t that she won, again. It isn’t that she has a very nice, successful, and pricy mount. It is not that she isn’t working hard, and it certainly isn’t that her family has money to bring her to the right stables, the right shows, or the right trainers. It actually has nothing to do with her. But it has everything to do with ourselves.

The blame game is a very dirty affair. Beginning by flirting with dissatisfaction, we enable ourselves to spiral into a concentric circle of self pity. Quickly followed by a serpentine of lack of accountability, and we’ve done an entire dressage test to prove it’s someone else’s fault.

I think one of my favorite instances of accepting accountability comes from beside the hunter ring, with I atop my favorite little gelding. Our first trip had been rather lovely; he was quiet and we loped around with loose reins. The second trip, however, ceased to be lovely when my horse saw a trashcan that couldn’t have been there before. He hopped, tried to stop, and ended up leaping over the jump with all four legs off the ground at the same time. Wonderful, right?

Of course, we didn’t place in that second trip. The girl who won had a nice, quiet, and agreeable chestnut mare (surprise!) who had calmly made every distance look easy. How easy it was to say that she’d never had to work had. How easy it was to blame her for my trip, for my lack of ribbon. In all reality, I could have been more observant. I could have noted the trashcan, closed my legs, and I could have kept the frustration off my face. But I didn’t. And there wasn’t anyone to blame for my trip but me.

If accountability was like pixie dust, we could sprinkle it everywhere and everyone would get the side effects of personal success and satisfaction. But then again, accountability and understanding your responsibility in a situation aren’t mystical pixie dust, and everyone has access to them. When you feel uncomfortable with an action you’ve taken, or if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, it isn’t anyone else’s issue. It isn’t their fault.

It’s so easy to point the finger at someone else, but I pointed it at myself. Putting myself on the spot like that was yes, uncomfortable, and yes, I wish I could have gone on pretending it wasn’t my fault. But it was, and out of a serpentine of lack of accountability I found myself at “x”. And “x” is a fantastic place to halt. So, halt I did.

There was no use complaining about the winner’s horse, or lack of difficulty. What would that change? Instead of continuing down a path of blame and unrelated frustration, I chose to pause. And in that pause, I realized that just because I didn’t win that class and she did … it doesn’t mean I can do better next time. Her success has absolutely nothing to do with mine, and because we are different people I can’t even pretend like we’re comparable.

Let’s stop the blame game. Let’s own up for our shortcomings, for our weaknesses. Put the time into your sport, your craft, your work, your hobbies… whatever it is. Make an effort, learn, grow, you know – the whole shabang. Because when you work hard and you’re accountable for your actions, you’ll find success tinges your horizon a beautiful way at sunset.

Wouldn’t you know it, but that girl won again. And it wasn’t because of her perfect horse, or her perfect family, or her perfect trainer. Not because of her father’s checkbook, either. Just because someone else succeeds, doesn’t mean you can’t too.

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