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How an NBA Player Means a Lot to Your Riding

goals psychology theory tips Jan 31, 2024
nba player Brian Scalabrine playing basketball

Today I want to talk about retired NBA player Brian Scalabrine.

You probably don’t know his name, or if you do, it is for all the wrong reasons.

He played in the NBA from 2001 to 2012 and was mostly known for being a bench warmer. He averaged only 3.1 points per game and 2 rebounds per game, which is pretty darn low for being a power forward and playing an average of 13 minutes per game.


Essentially he is mostly known for being a pretty bad NBA player, but just barely good enough to stay in the NBA for 11 seasons and not go unsigned.


Scalabrine regularly has taken quite a bit of flak from people for being so bad of a player. So much so, that at one point in combination with a sports radio show, he actually set up a contest the year after he retired to challenge anyone who thought they could beat him in a one-on-one game. Volunteers sent submission videos to showcase their abilities and four of Boston’s best non-professional basketball players each played a game against Scalabrine. Rules were simple, first player to 11 points with a margin of 2.


Scalabrine won all four games on a combined total of 44-6. He also won a game against the radio show’s three hosts in a 3-on-1.


Scalabrine set up the contest to prove that he is a lot closer to Lebron than everyone else is to him. Even though he may be one of the worst NBA players, there is still a massive gap between him and the general public, and therefore a much smaller gap than people thought between him and the absolute best in the NBA.


So what does this have to do with horses? I’m glad you asked.


When we see the Olympic caliber riders going, while our perception is that obviously they are very good, the reality is that they are just completely way beyond comprehension in how good they truly are. To not only get to the top levels of a sport, but to also repeatedly bring horse after horse to that level requires a level of ability beyond the typical rider’s ability to even comprehend. We have a perception and proximity bias that clouds our ability to accurately gauge the completely different level and planet that these athletes occupy.


We are super fortunate to be able to be so close, so connected to the highest levels in our sport. Heck, many of us have even taken lessons/clinics from Olympians.

How many people who play other sports can say that? Did your friend who competitively swam in college take lessons from Michael Phelps? Did your coworker who plays in a rec basketball league take lessons from Lebron James? Did they see them at their latest competition? Did they compete against them? I think the answer to all of the above is probably “no”.


However, this closeness I think also gives us a false, inaccurate gauge on how much better these riders truly are. Not only do they ride more horses in a couple days than most of us ride in the entire month, many of them have also really invested in their cross training, working out for 30-90 minutes most days to make them that much better. It’s literally their career and their aspirations on the line. They are, quite literally, Olympic caliber athletes. Just because their sport is riding doesn’t make them any less capable. 


So that is why I used Brian Scalabrine as an example. Even a “bench warmer” in the NBA is unbelievably better than some of the best recreational basketball players. The same thing goes for riding. Us “normal” riders cannot comprehend the vast majority of the finesse, skill, and abilities these riders have. It would be like if you or I tried to build our own rocketship to land on the moon. (Unless you are literally a rocket scientist, then never mind!). My point being that I wouldn’t even have a chance. I can’t even make a decent paper airplane, let alone build a rocket. 


This is why I started the Equine Academy. I started this whole thing to try to bridge that disconnect and provide the knowledge and tools that can help the “normal rider”. I have been fortunate to witness and learn from some of these amazing riders, and I have also been fortunate to have the support and horsepower to ride and compete at the upper levels, which has taught me a great deal that I could never have learned otherwise.

However, not everything I’ve seen and learned is applicable to the grassroots rider. Yet I am still much closer to the grassroots and lifestyle of a “normal rider”, so I’ve taken that knowledge and experience that I’ve gained and distilled it down into the most useful and beneficial information for the everyday rider.

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