By: Jessie Wright

The day I let go of competition, I started to win. Does that sound backwards? Yoda might understand it! Remember, he said, “Do you must, there is no try.” Well, I tried for years. I was so embarrassed at competitions, failure after failure after failure. I was convinced that others were looking at me saying, “Wow, and she’s a trainer’s wife- she’s terrible!” The thoughts would start before the show if they posted the draw beforehand. They were that old tyranny of mind- the shoulda, coulda, woulda, game. Are you familiar with that? “I should be able to beat this person,” “I could have done better if I had drawn better,” “I would have won if it wasn’t for that judge.” Then comes the condemnation. “I didn’t beat so and so, that means I basically suck,” “All my effort is for nothing,” “I work harder than anyone, and this is what happens!,” “It’s not fair!,” and so on.

One day I had a conflict with a peer at church. That day, it’s like God came down from heaven and smacked me upside the head, and all of a sudden everything came into focus. I recognized the same tyranny of mind operating in my every day peer interaction, poisoning the relationships. I hit my knees and began to see the responsibility lay only with me. Read the first paragraph again…see all the “I, I, I, Me, I.” The Lord took me to Isaiah 14 and showed me what Lucifer thought in his heart before he fell: “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isa. 14:13-14 ESV). Do you realize competitive judgment against others, or even yourself, is a fear based tormenting mindset? It comes from a wrong focus. The I, I, Me syndrome. Toby Keith sings about it! Do you realize how ugly and stinky this kind of pride is? Yes, I’ll say it. Fear and low self-esteem is pride! It’s a refusal to accept responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. It’s an attempt to blame others or outside circumstances. It’s a devaluing of others.

I went in repentance to my friend. She, being a mature individual, prayed with me and we both gave up the competition and comparison. I was freed at that moment to see myself as worthy, and also her as worthy. I could suddenly appreciate her talents and skills, and also my own! I saw that it isn’t a competition. And I saw, most importantly, that I am not the judge! I’m not the judge of her, or me. God is the judge. And Jesus already reconciled us to Him and handed down the verdict in our favor. What good news!

The effect of this change in mindset changed everything for me in the show pen. Dispensing with judgment allowed me to put the focus where it belonged: on riding my horse. It took “I, I, Me,” out of the equation. Everything is more fun now. Trying became doing. (Thanks Yoda!) We compete because we love horses. Aren’t we blessed to be able to come together, all of us who love horses, to enjoy what we love together? Is there anything greater than to enjoy the fruit of our desire and effort, all in one place, and celebrate every victory we all have, in and out of the show pen? If you simply show up at a show, or any other event in your life, you have won some victory somewhere. Look around at the people surrounding you and understand this about them, too. There is some victory they have won, some battle they are fighting, some lesson they are learning or have learned, and if you let them, they can teach you as well. The best way to ensure you get your fair share is to stop focusing on it, and do what you do. If you recognize any of these same thoughts in your repertoire, no worries; choose to cast them down out of your thought life, and replace them with love and appreciation for who God has made others and also you.

I don’t win every time I enter. I still wish I did—it would be better on my pocketbook! I do win a whole lot more than I used to, however, before I let go of all the junk I was hauling around in my psyche. I also re-defined what I considered a win. Remember, at the end of the day, only three things remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is love. If you, whatever your competition is today, succeeded in giving or living love in some situation, then chalk up this moment as a win for you, too.

Jessica Wright, wife of cutting and cowhorse trainer Don Wright, is an AACC Certified Christian Life Coach. She loves helping others and riding her horses. Contact her at

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