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The IHSA Road: Fight 'Til the Finish

Collegiate equestrienne Addie Davis lends inspirational advice: Find something really worth fighting for, then the rest of it just comes naturally.

By Addie Davis
The American Quarter Horse Journal
March 1, 2013

Addie and Christina Davis

Christina Davis celebrates Addie's high school graduation in 2009. (Photo by Reggie Davis)

Editor's note: A barrel-racer-turned-horsemanship-rider, AQHA member Addie Davis is a great example of how you can do anything you set your mind to. Addie is blogging for The American Quarter Horse Journal through her final semester at West Texas A&M University. Be sure to read Addie’s first blog.

My mom was a fighter.

She fought an unimaginable, unbearable war against cancer for an amazing 10 years. I often wondered what it was that kept her fighting for so long without ever losing her hope, faith, grace and beautiful spirit. It took me a long time to figure out that what really kept her going was us, her family. She never let anyone see the true pain she was in while battling that awful disease, even through the worst of it and in the last couple of weeks. She never thought about herself, just everyone that she loved around her.

I think the trick is to find something really worth fighting for, then the rest of it – the drive, determination, dedication, passion and unwillingness to ever give up – just comes naturally.

My mom won’t be here to watch me show my final season on the West Texas A&M University equestrian team, see me walk across the stage at graduation, get married, show and compete at rodeos with my Quarter Horses or even play with my one-day kids; but she gave me the inspiration to allow me to accomplish these things.

What I’ve realized is behind every success story or amazing legend, there is something hidden behind the curtains that other people may not be able to see, but is driving those people to keep pushing through whatever obstacles may be thrown their way. If you find that one thing that really pushes you to be your best and better your best all of the time, then you will come out on top.

In my experiences showing horses, especially in collegiate equestrian, I have found that it is best to not only care about how you do, but to also care about the success of your teammates (even if you are competing against them) and the success of the team as a whole.

I know that it is sometimes difficult to be good team members and compete against each other, but I’ve learned that you should not be selfish or snobby. Like most of us who have been competitive in the horse community throughout our childhood, whether in high school rodeo, junior rodeo, 4-H, AQHA shows, breed shows or cuttings, when you compete, it is all about you. But, forgive me if I am wrong, all of the best memories you have were with your fellow competitors before, during and after the competition. So why does it all change when you are on a team together competing alongside one another? You should want to see everyone do their best, even if it is at your expense.

My mom taught me to be a good sport my entire life – even though I love winning – and I strive to keep that good sportsmanlike behavior. In my opinion, if your team does well, you did well, too, because you helped them push harder in practice and the show pen.

My mom also taught me how to be courageous and never let go of your faith, hope and grace. I apply this to my riding and competing on a daily basis. You may think your life is the roughest thing in the world, but it is so crucial to keep your head up throughout it all. Chances are, there are people who have it a whole lot worse than you. In the last three months, my mother passed away from cancer, my precious pug puppy “Prim” was killed by a car, my rental house was without gas and water for two months and my health, well, let’s just say it sucks. I am not trying to complain here, just trying to say that I am still truckin’. You cannot give up when things don’t go your way; you have to push through to get the reward. If everything was always easy, there would not be any risk, reward or need to be better.

Hope and faith can go a long way in the show pen, especially when combined with hard work and determination. Even when you have a bad show or things just do not go your way, at all, just remind yourself that everyone has one of those days. Everyone is human. All of your devotion will be paid off.

A couple of weekends ago, my equestrian team had its first Intercollegiate Horse Show Association meet of the spring season – it was my last first one – at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. In the first show, I was third in reining (after having a minor panic attack because the horse I rode stepped on his reins in one of the stops, nearly pulling them out of my hand) and first in horsemanship. The second show, I received second in reining on a very nice young reiner and fourth in horsemanship, even with a stupid bobble in my pattern. Although I had hoped to perform better, I was very happy with my weekend and very proud of my team. As a team, we had several individual successes in both shows and came out third high-point team in the first show. We won the high-point team for the second show. I think I speak for the whole team when I say we did not do as well as we had hoped, but we were so thankful for the challenging competition from the other schools to make us strive for better.

Now we are gearing up for our IHSA regionals, which take place this weekend at North Central Texas College in Gainesville. Our team has been giving it a little more in workouts, participating in extra practices during the week and weekend, as well as giving each other moral support and extra advice so we can see everyone succeed. However, I will say that this week leading up to regionals started off as a mess due to the crazy blizzard we endured Sunday through Monday in the Texas Panhandle, which caused a cancellation of school, workouts and practices until Wednesday. Needless to say, we are all running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to squeeze in extra practices to get in as much riding time as possible before regionals.

I guess the point I was trying to get across is that you never know what life is going to throw you, so just take advantage of it all. Use whatever tough times you are going through to power you to be better. Find something that you really care about to help you accomplish whatever goals you may have, whether it is in the world of horse showing or not. I promise you that if you put everything that you have into it and if you really want it.

Occasionally, you need to put your own needs first, like when you are about to walk into the show pen, for a good example. But be very careful not to be selfish all of the time, because then others will not want you to do well. It is better to be the person whom everyone is excited to see succeed than to be the person who does well in the arena but has no cheering squad.

My mom had us to fight for. I, of course, am who I am because of her. Not only do I push myself to the limits for her, but also for my family, my coach, my team, my school and myself. I fight to make my mom proud up there in heaven, to make my dad and brothers proud of me down here, to be a good role model and example to whomever may be watching, and because my friends push me to not give up, no matter how bad it gets. What do you fight for?

Transitioning from barrel racing to horsemanship may not be easy, but Addie Davis had the grit and guts to get it done. Be sure to read Addie's first blog.