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How to Win and Lose With Grace

Filed under: Club & Show News,Club and Show News,Featured |     

By: Brittany Bevis

There’s a wise saying that’s frequently referenced in sports: “Win with humility, lose with grace, and do both with dignity.” It’s an important reminder for life in general, but especially following this show season as the 2021 calendar gives way to 2022.

The reality is that, in five or ten years, people might not remember what title you won, but they will remember how you won it. This hearkens back to childhood when a parent or coach probably encouraged you to “be a good sport.” But what does that look like for adults?

Victory and defeat are constant in any sport. There cannot be one without the other. Sometimes, you’re on the more desirable end of the spectrum, and more often, you’re not. Regardless, all athletes must learn how to deal with both scenarios, and equestrians are no exception.

If you ever find yourself coming off a string of wins, and you’re feeling a little self-important, it’s good to remember some basic competition math. On any given day, there can only be one “winner.” The other 99% of people competing in an event will not win. Now that’s not to say that second, third, or even tenth place don’t provide certain satisfaction, achievement, and personal fulfillment, but there can still be only one winner.

Especially in a sport like equestrian, where the results are largely based upon the opinions and preferences of judges, on any given day, you can be the winner just as easily as you can be the loser. This is even more true at the elite level of the sport when the quality of competition is so evenly matched.

So, when the results are announced, and the winner is crowned, how do you react?

Are you a humble winner who accepts congratulation with genuine appreciation and returns the favor by complimenting others? Or are you an obnoxious winner who gloats about the victory, expects adoration, and doesn’t return praise?

Are you a gracious loser, who celebrates the winner and responds to disappointment with maturity? Or are you a sore loser who downplays the accomplishments of others and makes excuses for poor performance?

It’s a choice you have to make, and it’s an important one.

Perhaps you know how to act, but you don’t know what to say. Of course, it’s a bit easier when you’re congratulating the winner.

  • “Congratulations! Great performance out there today.”
  • “Very impressive! A well-deserved win.”
  • “You did such a great job.”

But, when you’re the winner, it’s still important to recognize your fellow competitors and their efforts.

  • “Congratulations to you as well!”
  • “It was an honor to be at the top of the card with you today.”
  • “Thank you. You had a really nice ride too.”

Just a few helpful tips for how to win and lose with grace. If all else fails, remember…

“If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win.” -Vince Lombardi

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