CompetitionCompetition, why do we do it?

Competition used to be understood as ‘everyone working together towards a common goal.’ This also included the best possible training to ensure longevity of horses in some of the most physically demanding forms of sport with horses. In most countries now, it is the mother of all judgment and seen by many as the sole purpose to riding, not for the respect and honor towards correct training for horses, but for the pleasure and approval of the crowds watching them.

Depending on a persons current state of awareness, competition will have its main purpose to bring judgment, analyzing and opinion together to form a goal of defining right and wrong, good and bad and creating an overall picture of the best subject at the expense of all the others. The lover of the addiction to winning is no better off than the addiction to a drug. Like a parasite it drains you by always desiring more to fill the emotional high of being successful, of being great and of being superior to others in order to define a sense of who they are. This, like all addiction and attachment to outcomes, is the gateway to hell. Peace will forever elude you and the need to win will chase you like your shadow. Winning will never be enough as you will always desire more. Your experience of happiness is as often as the fix of the drug of winning is available to you, leaving behind you the trail of letdowns and disappointment. If you look closely you will also be experiencing this at home but a more subtle form of attachment to each ride bringing you happiness or sadness. Notice the way you feel after your ride whether your horse gave you what you consider to be a good or a bad ride.

Through experience we develop detachment and with that detachment joy rises above this state of defining your mood through your ride, thus allowing you to pass through the experience and see it for what it really is. Remember we are talking here about how something effects you that will help you understand where you are at. In other words judgment is because we are attached to a certain outcome that is based on our current beliefs of what we think is good or bad and we are searching for validation of those beliefs.

Attachment to outcomes which produces either happiness or disappointment is based from ego which is also fear based awareness. Detachment to outcomes with complete acceptance and surrender is a higher level of awareness more attuned with the soul. How do I know if I am operating from my ego? By how you feel, how you respond to what is happening. If there is anger, resentment, jealousy, discontent, disappointment even happiness based in superiority to others. These are all signs of being attached to an outcome that defines our happiness or sadness, it never fulfills you and you are always waiting for something better to happen in the future.

Part of the evolution of consciousness is the relinquishment of judgment. The desire to analyze and define good or bad and right or wrong is no longer needed, you are seeing the purpose behind all things and know that everything is happening for a reason. Through a powerful connection to the Self, choice and responsibility for our lives begins the process of creating our lives instead of being a victim to it. You cannot force yourself or tell yourself to think this way, it will happen on its own as you grow in your awareness. Freedom lies in non-judgment ‘know the truth and the truth shall set you free’.

CLB Scan 4

Going through the confusion
Change and growth is inevitable because it is what we are here to do. Growth, expansion, learning and evolving are the very fundamentals of our existence. If this was not already happening we would still be fighting to the death at our Olympic games.

The desire to win at the expense of someone losing is the fear based expression of the ego trying to enlarge itself through a sense of purpose at a very restricted level of awareness. Countries have been declaring war upon one another, businesses compete to profit and this is done all in the fear and mentality of the ego telling them that someone or something has to be gone in order for them to gain anything. Respect, love and compassion has no room here. But competing is not the same as war you say? Any time anyone requires someone else’s loss in order for them to gain anything in life that is the expression of the ego and ego is always fear based.

If you are either proving anything to yourself or to anybody else and require an outside validation, then your sense of self worth, self belief and self love will always only exist as long as the validation from others match your needs. The moment these change, so too does the foundation of your Self. No activity that creates joy at the expense of others (and in this case our horses) self worth, health, well being and joy can ever bring true peace, love and happiness. As we evolve as a society and move through the ego state competition will no longer be needed as a whole. Just as the ego falls away its desire and need to express itself through competition will be gone and therefore a new level of awareness will be expressed through a new experience and celebration of riding. When and how this will happen is not for me to say and may not even come near in my lifetime, but I believe it will happen.

So this brings us to the obvious question – Does this mean competition is bad and we shouldn’t be doing it? On the contrary, just see it for what it is – a part of your evolution to become aware of your Self. It can never and will never define who you are. If it has then it has only defined your ego and that is not who you truly are.
Again competition is neither wrong or right nor good or bad, it simply is. Whatever it is that you are currently attracted to and enjoy doing is merely in alignment with where you are evolved to. We attract into our lives the experience that matches our current level of awareness to move you to the next one and there is no need for you to be anywhere else. That experience is needed in order to take you to the next place and when it no longer resonates with you or is needed, it will fall away from you and a new experience will take its place. This may not even be external this will often take place within you and the same competition may effect a hundred people completely different. The shift that takes place within you through your experience with competition may be happening for some right now and reading this will help give you clarity and direction, where as for others it may happen later and for some it may have already happened while many may not even experience it in this lifetime. Until we have all evolved past this current state, competition is a necessary part of our experience as a whole.

Although there may be many enlightened trainers and riders able to ride detached from an outcome they are able to provide vision, inspiration and example to other riders not yet at this level of awareness.


When you are in the ring you do not ride for you, you ride for your horse, you ride for what your horse needs to perform its best at every stride. You ride to present to the judge the five or seven minutes of all the training you have been doing all of its life. Winners that are consistent and love their riding are not there to win, they are there to be the best rider they can be and present their horse as best as they can. It is the love for riding and the horse, not the love for winning that makes every outcome a successful one.

© Catherine Louise Birmingham

Catherine with her trainer Josef Freese
Visbek ‘08’

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