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The Childhood of an Equestrian: A Quick Overview

I have had the privilege of riding horses basically since I could walk. According to my mother, once I went on that first pony ride at a birthday party I was hooked. Growing up, I spent most of my time at the barn, and almost every weekend I was at horse shows. I never realized how different my life was from most of my friends and other kids my age. This is probably because I didn’t really care that my life was different. I loved spending as much time as possible with the horses that I rode, and I never felt like I was missing out on anything.

From the time I started riding until around the seventh grade, I rode at an intense barn. By that I mean my trainer was strict, I was riding at least four times a week, and the other girls I rode with, although they were my friends, were also my competition in the show ring. My trainer would push me to the point where I would cry, and she’d tell me to get over it. Looking back, I remember despising her when she’d tell me to do something I didn’t think I could do, but I was always able to do it once I got over my fear. My point is that while my elementary and early middle school years may have looked like too much to other people outside of the horse world, this world took a lot from me, but I also got a lot from it in return.

My weekends consisted of spending Saturdays at the barn getting ready for the horse show that was inevitably happening on Sunday. I would get to the barn, ride, wash my horse, braid her mane, and put a blanket on her so she wouldn’t get dirty overnight. On Sundays, I would wake up at around four in the morning with my parents, get dressed, and head over to the barn by four thirty. We would load up all the horses and head to whatever show was on our schedule for that weekend. Those shows were always stressful, and I always felt bad when I placed higher than my friends did, but that was how it worked. Sometimes I’d beat them, and other times they’d beat me. My trainer would yell at us for little things that didn’t really matter, we’d fall off our horses and get disqualified, a horse would break free from one of us and would be galloping around the show grounds with us running after it, anything you can think of, it probably happened at one point or another. With all that being said though, I loved every minute of it. I loved walking around in my fancy show clothes, feeling like I was important, like I was somebody. I loved riding and knowing that people were watching, assessing me. And the best feeling of all was being handed that first place ribbon, the shimmering royal blue proof that you were the best one in that ring and that all your hard work was paying off.

Riding horses, in addition to the fact that I was given my own horse when I was eight years old, taught me so much that other kids at that age knew nothing about. I knew what it meant to care for a living thing other than myself. Most kids my age had hamsters, or they had to clean their cat’s litter box when their parents asked them to. I had to take care of and properly exercise a twelve-hundred-pound animal that had the potential to kill me at any point if she wanted to (thankfully, she never did, and hopefully never will). I developed patience. A horse doesn’t always want to do everything its owner tells it to do and fighting with one (especially when you’re only eight) is a losing battle. And most importantly, I learnt to trust. The bond one can form with a horse is unlike any other. I have had my horse for twelve years now. I trust her with my life, and I’m pretty sure if she could talk, she’d say the same thing about me. The connection we have is one of a kind, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

A lot of people look at equestrians, especially the young ones, and automatically assume we are snobby rich girls who get everything we want. While I have certainly met my fair share of girls who fit that stereotype incredibly well, for every one of those girls there is someone like me. Someone who lived a comfortable life but worked hard for things. Someone who loves the sport but loves the animals even more. Horses have been in my life ever since I can remember, and while I may have had significantly less freedom than most of the other kids I knew, if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Even now, the barn is my happy place, and sitting in that saddle gives me a sense of peace that I can find nowhere else.