Part Two: Never Stop Believing
What follows is a condensed and edited conversation with Candice Hudson.
What life lessons have you learned from a horse?
I have learned that you can’t let your emotions drive your actions. I learned this fairly early on. If, for example, you feel mad, you cannot act on that anger. Acting on anger doesn’t work for anybody. You have to either walk away or stay calm. You must always remain the same. No matter what’s happening, you must always remain calm and level.
Why do you centre your life around horses?
Horses are something I've always been drawn to. I’ve always had a way with animals in general. I often feel I can communicate with animals better than people. I’ve always felt more comfortable with animals than people. If I have to be either in a room full of people or cats, I would pick the cats. When I wasn’t riding it got to the point where I was dreaming about horses. I would, for example, dream of riding through a field. And it was shortly after that that I started taking riding lessons again. It’s always been something that I’ve been drawn towards. Horses never left my mind over the years even when I wasn’t riding. Someone might say to me “Oh, I remember you used to ride,” and in my mind I would think, “used to ride? Whatever do you mean? I still ride”, even though I hadn’t ridden for six years. In my mind I was still riding. It never left me, and everything I did I did in order to set myself up to be in a position where I could ride, where I could be with horses.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge in horse riding?
The ups and downs can be tough... You have a great day one day and the next not so much.
What do you feel is your greatest triumph in riding?
I think that my greatest triumph is in my ability to not quit and to keep going. In the face of adversity, I have managed to have the tenacity to stick with it. After falling off every week for a year, for example. When I decided to go pro it is when things started to get better. It was like the universe was waiting for me to make that decision. It was as if I was being rewarded for making the decision. It was when the opportunities started to come.
So, was there a shift in you?
And what was that shift?
The shift was confidence. Becoming a pro and working on my own. When I turned pro it was like my telling myself that I can do this and then showing myself that I could.
What does it mean in the equestrian world to turn pro? And what did mean for you in particular?
Turning pro in the equestrian world means you can accept payment for riding and coaching. If you are an amateur, you compete in amateur classes and you are not allowed to get paid to ride. You also can only coach beginners and special needs. If you want to coach anything above that level, or to get paid for riding, you must be a pro. So, I was holding onto my amateur card so that I could show amateur classes against amateurs, people who were essentially at my level. In this way I’d be more competitive in the ring. Because showing against a girl who was a pro would be much harder. Finally, I thought to myself that I just don’t care. I would rather show against the pros. I don’t care if I don’t do as well for a while, I can make more money and do more of what I enjoy and not be a second-class citizen if I’m a professional. So, I just said to myself that I am going to go for it.
I had to decide either to turn down the opportunities and stay in my comfort zone, or just take the leap and go.
I had opportunities being brought to me, so I had to decide either to turn down the opportunities and stay in my comfort zone, or just take the leap and go. So, I said to myself, “Just go, stop listening to people who are telling me just to wait.”
And those opportunities came in part because of your tenacity to pick yourself up off the ground, didn’t they?
There were times when you feel that you have to make something happen. I was always looking for an opportunity. I was always hoping that something would happen. It was a continual effort to work towards something. It was important to me to have a belief that something would happen. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know how. My attitude was to just keep going, and to just keep working on improving myself. Do everything that I could to improve myself. Be ready when an opportunity comes. These are the things I was always telling myself.
You speak about “aha” moments.... these sound really interesting.... can you give us an example?
They are random, but they happen for me all the time. I had one recently while working with my client’s horse. The horse, while going to the left going around the end would sometimes feel “crooked” and start to lose his balance. I wanted to “fix” him. But I couldn’t really get it to work. I had been working on it for a few weeks. Then I finally thought to myself ... get your own balance, get yourself situated and then worry about the horse. So, I made sure I was balanced going into the corner and then he became balanced too. He was mirroring me. He had been trying to compensate for me and I had been trying to compensate for him. So that was an “aha” moment: deal with yourself first and then deal with the horse.
My favourite thing is to develop a horse, to bring it along, especially when they are super challenging.
What’s your favourite thing about being at the barn?
My favourite thing is watching a horse improve, or do something new, or just make progress. My favourite thing is to develop a horse, to bring it along, especially when they are super challenging. So, my favourite moment is when a horse learns something new or when it has a breakthrough. It’s a natural high.
If you could now go back and tell something to young 8 year-old Candice just starting out riding, what would you say to her?
Keep believing in yourself and it will get better. You will get there. Don’t always listen to what people tell you. Don’t be afraid to continue to go against the grain. Some of the best things I have done were in going against the grain. They made me better.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
In the horse industry... don’t do it for the money.
In life... never stop believing in yourself.