Ride The Momentum

I grew up in Lola, a small rural farming community in Western Kentucky. The total length of Lola when it was a thriving little community was not hardly even a mile long in any direction. In the sphere of this small town, both of my Grandparents were entrepreneurs in their own businesses. On one side of town, on my Dad’s side of the family, my Grandfather owned & operated a Purina brand feed store. On the opposite side of town, on my Mom’s side of the family, my Grandfather owned & operated a Texaco service station. My Dad’s passion since he came into this world, did not revolve around either of these types of businesses, but rather in the ownership and training of Quarter Horses, especially in the emphasis of cutting routines with livestock.ridemomentum

My Dad always wanted me to share his passion. He tried diligently to get me interested in the horse business. Until I was 11 or 12 years old and able to work in the feed store and be responsible for myself, I went and participated in my share of quarter horse shows. In order to get me interested in the animals, my Dad put me on one as soon as possible. He would sit me up on one of the them and lead the horse around with me on board.

We soon graduated to me riding the horse, while Dad rode his own horse and him leading mine with a lead rein, so my horse was attached to him and his horse. I must have been around 4 years old at this time as the memories of it are very vivid. The horse I would always be led on, and would later ride many times was named Joker.

Dad decided it would be a good idea to go for a ride on his horse with me in tow on Joker through Lola. Now, the name must have fit because Joker must have thought it would be funny to jerk loose from from Dad and take off with me on board like streaked lightening. He did just that, galloping what seemed like to me 100 miles per hour back up through town toward my Grandfather’s Texaco station. The distance from the town limit sign to the service station can’t be more than an eighth of a mile, but to me at 4 years old on top of this big animal running at full speed, it seemed like a long way. I just hung on to the saddle horn as tight as I could, staying focused to remain on board, while Joker was smoking up the street at a full run. In those days, service station owners pumped your gas and wiped the windows of your vehicle for you, and as I looked up the street, there was my Papaw pumping someone’s gas and he saw me and Joker coming his way. Prior to owning the gas station, my Papaw made his living as a Blacksmith, so he had seen horses behave all sorts of ways; he stepped out in the street, grabbed Joker’s rein and stopped us on a dime.

My family often joke with me about the incident, asking how far Joker might have run if he hadn’t been stopped? I’ll be straight with you, I was thankful the ride was over. I also don’t ever remember being scared before, during or after the crazy ride; I just remember being focused on staying with the ride as it happened.

What I learned from Joker about momentum:

Momentum can be scary.

What if this thing really takes off? What if this idea gets bigger or goes faster than we are prepared for it to go? You have to hang on, stay focused and enjoy the ride.

Momentum can start suddenly.

Things can change direction before you are ready in the blink of an eye. If I would have been able to reach Joker’s rein, I would have instinctively tried to pull back and stop it. Our instincts sometimes betray us in that when we experience momentum in a positive direction we should push it forward, not try to pull it backward.

Momentum needs focus.

You have to stay with it. The ride may be smooth and it may be bumpy, but I had to keep my concentration, focus and most importantly, I had to hang on! Sometimes, you just need to hang on.

Momentum does end.

My Papaw brought Joker’s momentum to an end by stopping it, but Joker would have eventually stopped somewhere. Whether it’s positive or negative momentum, it does wind down at some point, so you have to be prepared. If you are experiencing negative momentum, you can be assured it will come to an end some time. If it is a positive growth spurt, it will also end and you will need to get it started again. It is easy to push a rolling rock than it is to get one rolling.

Momentum can make you a star.

How much attention do you think I got from everyone after this ride? Are you kidding me! Everyone was bragging about how I stayed on this horse during his crazy gallop. Was I good? No way. Was I ready? No way. Did I want to do it again soon? No way. Momentum can make you look better than you are. If you are a leader, you really need to know the difference between what you are capable of and what momentum is doing for you. Ride it, enjoy it but don’t take credit for all of it.

Joker did most of the work, not me.

This post has been republished with permission from Tony Richards

Tony Richards

Tony Richards

Founder and Senior Partner at Clear Vision Development Group
Tony Richards is founder and Senior Partner of Clear Vision Development Group, a leadership and organizational development company. Tony makes his home in Columbia, MO with his wife and partner, Ann Marie. In addition to Clear Vision, they also own Word Marketing, Horizon Research Services, and Fusion Production & Design. Tony was a C-level executive for 20 years, starting in 1985. He serves as a board member of Big Brothers & Big Sisters, a steering committee member & leadership instructor of Leadership Columbia and Small Business Committee member for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of Catalyst, a worldwide group of leadership specialists; He has published over 300 articles on leadership and business and is a regular columnist for the Columbia Business Times, The Rainmaker Group and Essex Business Strategists of Europe. Tony publishes a weekly newsletter, Clear Vision Weekly and an online video series, Clear Vision TV. His first published book will be available in 2014, entitled “100 Big Ideas To Enhance Your Leadership, Life and Business”. Tony was recently named number 27 of the Top 100 Leadership Experts to follow on Twitter.
Tony Richards
Tony Richards




  • April 13, 2014


    If ever buy a horse, I would call him Momentum.  What a great story, Tony, and amazing lesson.

  • April 13, 2014


    Great story. Thanks Tony.

  • April 13, 2014


    Oh boy! My own kiddos were put straight up too. Horses are a huge focus in our lives so my thought process was start it early, no fears, no worries. Well. BOTH children (My son who will be 16 this year and my daughter who will be 7 very soon) were bucked off and scared by horses too well broke and trusted to ever do such a thing! But both times- unexpected things happened. Both times the heartache from what they both perceived as personal betrayals was horrendous. And BOTH times, it took quite a long while to get them comfortable again riding alone. 

    I love the parallels you took from Joker and the force of momentum. It can happen in a blink and it can be pretty darn scarey- whether we are talking horses or talking professional success (or anything in between). I’ve been in some spots- I am in a couple right now as a matter of fact and there isn’t a dang thing I can do about them- unless I want to just “bail off” and that really isn’t an option. So I will just ride it out and see where I end up. Hope for the best, do my best to keep up and remember all I have learned. Thanks for this, Tony.

  • April 13, 2014


    AlaskaChickBlog – What an eye-opening story Amber-Lee, one that teaches all of us what truth and trust is all about.  Beautiful of you to share your story and allowing us to learn from you.