Disadvantaged, Underprivileged Underdog

Who is it exactly that determines what an advantage or disadvantage is? Who decides that one person has the upper hand? Who sits back and looks at the circumstances of a person’s life and decides for them whether they have a chance or not?

You do.

Let that sink in for a minute.

YOU are the one who determines whether the hand you have been dealt is good or bad and you are the one in charge of playing it to the best of your ability.

These thoughts occurred to me this morning as I went out to feed my horses once again in NEGATIVE 25 degree weather! This is the kind of cold that stings your eyeballs the second you walk outside. It makes it hard to breathe and hard to move because you have so many layers of bulky clothing on.

Being a trainer and having to ride in this weather could truly go in the disadvantage column if we were dividing things like that up.

But nobody is going to convince me that I am a victim of my circumstances. And I hope you aren’t so easily convinced either. What may seem like your greatest disadvantage today could become your greatest advantage tomorrow depending on how you handle it.

Let me tell you a little story about that.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to get back into riding horses after a six or seven year hiatus from it. With the help of a close friend I found of colt on Craig’s List and decided to have her start him for me with the intension of making him a barrel horse. I had no idea what I was doing. I had ridden western pleasure horses and all around horses before that, but it seemed like a good idea at the time and I had very little money to spend so this was the best I could do.

The horse was a mutt. He was bred for halter and western pleasure on one side and had some Foundation Quarter Horse and Quarter Horse racing breeding on the other side. He had a clubbed foot, crooked teeth and a big head. What he did have going for him was a good mind, and thank God because I was really rusty and probably had no business riding a horse with so little experience.

My friend did a phenomenal job starting him and taught me a lot in the process. This sparked my interest in training horses and kind of got the ball rolling in that direction. I worked as hard as I could with the limited knowledge I had to make this gelding into a barrel horse, but as time went on it became evident that he was just terribly slow and had almost zero athletic ability. (LOL)

At this point I still had almost no money to spend on a new horse but I had been doing my research about the kind of horse I needed to get and the breeding that would be more likely to be fast and athletic. So I listed my gelding for sale as a trail horse and as fate would have it, I wound up trading him for my gelding, Elvis.

In the last couple years I have tried to make the most of every opportunity to learn and to ride with great trainers, study, experiment with new methods of training and learn from every horse that comes through my program. It has not always been easy. I have put a lot of time on problem horses, buckers, back yard bred two year olds and rejects to get to where I am now, riding some outstanding barrel prospects and futurity colts.

I couldn’t tell you how many thousands of hours have been spent learning everything I could possibly learn about horsemanship and training. But what I can tell you is that in the moments that I felt disadvantaged because of the untalented, bad minded, bad behaving horses I was riding… I was truly developing my GREATEST advantage. When you learn to ride and train the tough ones, you develop the skills you will need when those great horses come along.

If I hadn’t rode some of those difficult horses, I would never be able to appreciate the good minds and talent of the horses I get to ride today and I don’t think I would be able to do them justice.

The troubled, untalented, problem horse is just as valuable to your experience as the great one. And although it may seem like a disadvantage at the time, it could turn into the very thing that gives you an edge in the future.

Make the most of every opportunity, be resourceful, be thankful, toss the victim mentality out the window and make the hand you’ve been dealt seem like the hand you wished for.

I want to hear YOUR underdog story. I want to know how you made your disadvantages into your greatest advantage. Leave a comment, share and tag me using #emilysunderdogstory!

Keep in touch with me on Facebook at Emily Gernaat Performance Horses LLC!

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