Don't Be Ashamed
The kid that couldn't afford a "made" show pony and had to buy a scraggly rescue with some baggage had to learn how to train a horse. That's a skill that push button horse riders don't get to acquire. They may get more ribbons but learning to "make" your own horse is worth a thousand ribbons.
Maybe you look like the class hobo with 20 dollar breeches and a tee shirt with boots that are a little to short because you can't afford custom. Don't worry about that. Worry about your riding. Clothes don't make the rider. Be proud that you are there doing the same things they are without having to be well off in life. That is an accomplishment!
Do you get shamed for not having the best equipment? As long as your horse is comfortable and cared for you have nothing to be ashamed of! Your horse doesn't need a pad and polos in every color under the sun. Sure a nicer quality saddle custom fitted to your horse would sure feel luxurious. But that's it. It's a luxury. Not a need. If his saddle isn't hurting him then it's just fine.
Are you the only one that doesn't "own"? Welcome to the club! Owning a horse does NOT make you a better rider. Plenty of top riders don't own their rides. It sure is nice but at least you don't have to pay their vet bills or board for that matter.
Maybe you feel like the odd ball for not being able to show every weekend like everyone else. Just do what you can! And more importantly only show if you want to. You may want to, but you can't afford it. Perhaps you can set small goals to start and show once or twice a year. Chances are you already have a job. But if you don't maybe getting one would enable you to show. If you already have a job though and still can't afford to show don't despair. You might get a better job later. But even if nothing changes and you can't show at all just be patient. Showing is in essence spending a lot of money to get a ribbon. Yes, it is fun and can teach you some life lessons. It is a great experience. But it's not what makes you a good rider.
In my opinion
Being a dead broke equestrian is a real test of character. It would be so easy to give up. Like I said, it's not for the faint of heart. It takes a strong person to persevere in something with so much against you. The horse world is stereotyped as elitist for a reason. Because you do usually have to be rich to get anywhere. But again, are the rich really happy? I honestly don't know! And I don't care! I'm sure some are and some aren't. But I'm determined to focus on myself and find happiness in my present circumstances whether they might change for the better or not.
Sometimes I look at the fancy horses and I genuinely wish I could afford them. But I am not ashamed of the rescue ponies I've ridden. One of the most satisfying things is to improve a horse so much through training that it begins to vaguely (or sometimes be a spitting image) resemble those fancy mounts.
How to deal with doubtSelf-doubt is your worst enemy. It has caused me so much heartache, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Perhaps because of something someone said, or how you've been treated, or even just an inner sense of worthlessness you doubt your abilities or your ability to succeed. If you're like me, it's all of the above.
But how can you overcome this?
Reflection. Always reflect on where you started. Reflect on what you have done. On the things you've learned, the challenges you've faced, and the success you have had no matter how small it may seem. All those things may seem small and insignificant but the aren't! They all add up. Continue adding to them every day. One day they will build up to something you never thought you'd achieve.
Don't give up!You will face challenges. You will have doubt. You will have times when you feel like it's impossible. Times where you don't see any way it could possibly work. Don't give up though! No matter what, just like you add leg stride by stride, keep pushing day by day to overcome everything in your way.
Look for positive individuals and support each other. We all need help in one way or another. Moral support is one of the best things someone (including you) can offer because it costs you nothing! Yet, it can change another persons view of themselves for the better. Which in turn can change their life over time.
Don't ever be ashamed of being a poor or even dead broke equestrian. And don't ever give up on something you love so much. That's why I created this blog! To offer support to those like me. Dead. Broke. Equestrians. Together, we can achieve so much!