Hall of Fame basketball player Bill Bradley once said, “Becoming number one is easier than remaining number one.” I think anyone who has ever reached the pinnacle of sports, industry, or any other competitive venture they find themselves thrust into agrees. Competition is about winning or losing. It’s about trying to take something others desire.
Competition, in its base form, may result in life or death. For example, animals may compete for territory, water, food, or mates. Some animals die as a result of losing a battle for one of those things. Fortunately, this rarely happens amongst humans, so we instead focus our thoughts of competition in sport or business, and sometimes both.
Olympic gold medalist Herb Perez said, “Competition is a complex thing. It brings out the best and the worst in all participants. It refines the technique and sharpens the mind, body and spirit.”
This quote certainly applies to our sport. We see and hear celebration and criticism of the winners. We see competitors transform themselves over the years. People who begin as inexperienced newcomers, and are not very competitive in any arena, find themselves vying for a gold trophy at the AQHA World Championship, a Congress Bronze, or a winning check. This isn’t something that is given to them. It requires study, hard work, and years and years of practice. They sharpen their skills, hone their knowledge about horses, and learn how to compete against the best their sport has to offer. It’s difficult work but the reward is worth it to them.