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Comparisons & Equestrians

two women riding across a field
Written by Andrea Parker

I have long compared myself to other riders. The hallmark of these comparisons has been a sense of not good enough-ness. In years gone by I’ve felt the need to justify where I am on my journey in comparison to others.

My sense of self-worth as a rider rested precariously on the delicate balance of a finely tuned mathematical equation. Points were added on for training my own horse, for infrequent lessons, for her not having fancy bloodlines and not naturally being a big mover. Points were subtracted for having taken such a long time to progress from prelim to elementary.

My sense of self-worth as a rider rested precariously on the delicate balance of a finely tuned mathematical equation.

What I had never admitted to myself is that I was jealous of the apparent success of these riders. I recently heard someone say that jealousy is just fear talking. And for me this resonates deeply. I was jealous of these riders as I wasn’t sure I would or could ever achieve what they had. In recent years this has become less of a problem for me.

Comparisons are problematic in a sport such as riding where there will always be someone with more talent, money, more access to training and coaching, more access to competition. There will always be another rider with more expensive saddlery, riding clothing, slimmer, taller or younger.

When we measure our success in comparison to others there will always be an area in which we fall short.


While this mentality fell away as I got a handle on my anxiety it has only been recently that I have realised that these types of comparisons are futile. One of my favourite podcasters, Meret Boxler said “Comparison is a losing game”. And she couldn’t be more right.

Comparison is a losing game.

In addition to the fact that there will always be someone with ‘more’ than us, when we play the comparison game, we often see another’s successes without the context of their challenges or even their failures. We also don’t see the endless hours of training behind that moment of success.

This is more evident now with the increasing popularity and prevalence of social media. It tricks us into thinking we know what is happening in someone’s life, but the reality is that most of us, whether intentionally or not, only put out in the world the things that have gone well. We might share some of our struggles but this is frequently in the context of things improving.

I believe that we need to stop making these cursory comparisons between ourselves and other riders. If it makes you feel bad and doesn’t give you any information as to how you can improve, leave that comparison behind.

Is Every Comparison Problematic?

All that being said I do think that comparisons can be helpful if done with the right intention. For instance, if I were to compare my position to that of Laura Graves with the intention of figuring out what I could improve in my own position this could be useful.

I also find it useful to compare myself to myself a year or more ago. Earlier this year I was wondering if Nonie and I had actually made any progress. I was trawling through photos when I came across a video of us competing novice a few years ago. I couldn’t believe how much she has changed, her balance more uphill and her frame more collected. And I looked totally different in the saddle, with my lower leg being more underneath me and my core more correctly engaged.

I’d love to hear from you, have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to others?

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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.