The year of the horse, 2014, has truly lived up to its namesake for me. For the first time since my freshman year of college, I completed a full summer show season riding my own horse. As a working adult amateur this is a huge accomplishment and one I’ve been working toward for several years. And anyone intimately involved in horses knows it’s so easy for things to go wrong: from injuries to work commitments to financial issues. But in 2014, just about everything went right for me. I won my share of ribbons and prizes, as well as crossed off a lifelong goal of competing at 2’6”. I accomplished what I set out to do, but the lessons I learned weren’t always what I expected.
I expected to improve my riding by strengthening my core and legs. I knew that riding more frequently would solidify my partnership with my new horse and that we would truly become a team over the course of the summer. And all of that happened. Of course I still have a long way to go until I’m worthy of George Morris, but I can say that the summer of riding and showing made be a better, stronger rider and that my horse and I know each other really, really well now.
What I didn’t realize was what I would learn about myself. For me, riding is an integral part of my entire life. Some people gain fulfillment from doing a good job at work and climbing the corporate ladder; others get immense joy from being the ultimate homemaker. My chief pleasure in life is riding, but really, it’s more than even just that. The year of the horse taught me that I just love horses. I love to groom my horse, feed him treats and scratch his forehead. There’s just something about being around these amazing animals that makes my life complete… and I never really realized that until now.
How has this changed my outlook for next year? Well, I’m still hoping to improve my riding: my core really needs some more work and overall, I could stand to push myself harder. I’m aiming at competing in some hunter derbies, as well as adding a second division to a few shows next summer. I’m still hoping that my partnership with my horse gets stronger too, and that we continue to become an amazing team. But what I’m also going to do is slow down and smell the roses.
I want to take a day off here and there and just enjoy being around my horse. I want to remember to hug him close so I never forget the feel of his coat against my cheek and I want him to enjoy his life as much as I’m enjoying mine. Together, we are complete and I never want to lose sight of that.