My love for horses first began in summer camp. For a kid that didn’t come from a horse family, getting introduced to these gentle giants seemed like magic. Eventually, as my passion grew, I moved on to a summer camp for equestrians. It was there where my interest and talents were nurtured, but most importantly, where I first realized that there was a true art to being an equestrian. I noticed that the bond between horse and rider wasn’t developed in an instant, but over many moments and rides together. A good equestrian knows they are part of a partnership that needs trust, communication, and attention to thrive.
Over the next decade, I pursued my passion. I spent countless hours a week at the barn, learned from fellow riders, and trained with top professionals in the industry. I worked at “pony parties” for extra ride time as a kid and “catch rode” when and where I could as an adult, always grateful for any time I had in the saddle. When I eventually got my own horse, I learned firsthand what it was like to put the needs of another being ahead of your desires. There are no days off as an equestrian. No extended periods of absence are allowed. And nowhere else you would rather be. When my horse got sick, I was at the barn early in the morning before my high school classes to give him his medication, and as soon as school let out in the afternoon, I would be back at his stall. Usually, there would be one final check before bedtime.
So, I always found it funny when I would tell people that I was an equestrian, and their first response would be, “That’s not a real sport,” or “That’s so easy, the horse does all the work, and you just sit there.” I was never an equestrian for the blue ribbons at horse shows. I was an equestrian because I loved the delicate bond between horse and rider, a relationship that can take a lifetime to develop. I think what people fail to see is the countless hours and dedication that go into this sport, just like any other. Being an equestrian is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle that requires you to sacrifice, often for your partner.
Returning to riding as an adult has not been easy. My body doesn’t “bounce back” from time in the saddle like it once did. Yet, I will gladly take all of the pain and days of soreness to experience that special connection between horse and rider. Except now, as someone who is always riding different horses, I have the pleasure of creating that bond each time I put my foot in the stirrup.
P.S. If you want to see what happens when an equestrian “just sits there,” head over to my Instagram and watch this Reel!