Emma Knight
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Emma Knight

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Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Emma Knight

I’ve been riding for six years, started my college's small equestrian program, and share a lovable but fiery OTTB named Beau with my dad, Mark. We plan to take Beau to his first eventing competitions this summer!

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Finding the Balance

Practicing our jumping. Photo by VR Photography. Practicing our jumping. Photo by VR Photography.

Having goals is important. Whether it’s to someday ride in Rolex at the four-star level or to finally perfect that walk to canter transition, goals keep us focused. But when do goals stop being goals and start being obsession?

Inevitably, sometime during your horse career, you will meet someone who simply has horses to compete. What a sad horse life that is! One of the things that sticks in my brain about the horse world is that there are two types of horse people: those who care for their horses first, and those who ride and hand off their horse to a groom, not to be seen again until the next ride. I’m not talking about the upper level riders who have too many horses to handle without a team, I’m talking about the people who think they are doing the horse a favor by riding it. Any horse that allows you to ride, especially ride well, has done you an incredible privilege.

I have two dueling goals for my horse always in my brain. The first is to compete, hopefully successfully, starting at Starter and moving up from there. This is, to most eventers, an obvious goal. We love to compete, and we sure as heck love to show off our horses! The second goal is just as important, but more often overlooked. That is to just enjoy my horse.

You may think, “But can’t we enjoy our horses while working towards our competitive goal?” The unsatisfying answer is, “Kind of.” We enjoy our horses when they do something incredible, when they nail that leg yield, or transition, or take off from just the right spot. We praise them and tell them we love them and that they’re the most incredible horse on the planet (because every horse lover thinks their own horse is the best!)

My goal to enjoy my horse is bigger than that. Beau is a 12-year-old, off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding, and he has had a long, hard life. I want to enjoy just being with him, turning him out, hanging out in his stall, brushing him to a shiny glow. But I board him half an hour away, and I can’t always do that. So my goal is a little more difficult than I thought.

Beau relaxing in the field with his buddy Magic. Photo by Emma Knight.

Beau relaxing in the field with his buddy Magic. Photo by Emma Knight.

Instead, I have to plan to balance my visits to my handsome boy. Enough rides to keep both of us in shape and advancing to our competitive goals, but remembering to take time to just enjoy his company. One of my favorite ways to do this is to ride bareback. Something about a bareback ride is just so connective, so bonding. It’s a fun way to love on your horse!

Finding the balance means working towards your competitive goals, always trying to move forward. It means long hours practicing, long hours training. But it also means relaxing. It means taking the time to tell your horse you love him when he’s just being a normal horse, too. It means creating that bond that will ultimately make it easier and better to compete. It means having fun!

So, remember to hug your horse. Remember to love on him or her, because even if they haven’t done something great to work towards your competitive goals, every moment spent with you is a moment more of bonding. Every moment is more of their company to enjoy. Finding the balance may not be easy, but it is oh so worth it!

Go Riding!

About Emma: I’ve been riding for six years, started my college’s small equestrian club, and share a lovable but fiery OTTB named Beau with my dad, Mark. We plan to take Beau to his first eventing competitions this summer! Horsey Instagram: @knight.eventing

An Open Letter From a Young Rider to Adult Amateurs

Emma's father, Mark Knight, teaching her and their shared horse Beau. Photo courtesy of Emma Knight.  Emma's father, Mark Knight, teaching her and their shared horse Beau. Photo courtesy of Emma Knight.

To the adult amateur riders in our equestrian community:

I think as a young rider (I’m 18), I often forget to thank the older, wiser riders in my life. So many people have inspired me and given me the confidence to get to where I am now. Of course, there are trainers and coaches and barn moms and friends (maybe they’ll get their own articles someday!). They all play a part. Yet I think the most underrated influences are the adult riders who inspire me on a daily basis.

As someone who has just started college, I’m thinking more and more about the role horses will have in my life. I love riding, caring for, and just being around my equine counterparts. But the logical and reasoning part of my brain has a different opinion.

There’s a reason the saying goes, “To earn a million dollars in the equestrian world, you have to start with two!” As a (shockingly) non-millionaire, this is something that is important to think about. I have to find a career that I love that can allow me to at least hope for the continuation of my love of the equine community.

My barn at home is full of adult amateur riders, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! The friends my age that I have made are awesome for being silly and having fun, but the adults who are always there add that extra spark to the barn that makes it such a great place.

Not only do we have the best manager and coaches, the adults, both boarders and lesson riders, are always willing to give some advice or help out when needed. I know I’ve had my fair share of problems and rough days, and there are some people that are always there for me. And when was the last time I thanked them? I mean, really thanked them.

The people that continually inspire me, time after time, are the people that make it work. These are the people who don’t ride professionally, who don’t have two million bucks to spend; these are the extra shift takers, who deal with that extra stress to afford the lessons they need or that piece of tack that just make all the difference; these are the people who get up on Saturday morning to muck stalls to help with board; these are the people who would rather pay for the vet bill than fix their cars; these are the people work every bit as hard as the professional rider with half the recognition; these are the people that will take in that rescue horse because they can’t bear to let it suffer anymore, even when it means funds might be stretched tight for a while; these are the people that volunteer for early show mornings to help out with anything they can, as much as they can.

These are the people that take chances. These are the people who will risk it all for love of their sport.

So, to you, these people, the adult amateur riders of the equestrian world, I thank you. Thank you for working hard. Thank you for making it work. Thank you for giving me the hope I need to continue reaching for my goals. Without you, our community would miss out on a whole lot of great people, fine horses, and a ridiculous amount of hope. I think I can speak for the whole community when I say that we are so blessed and grateful to have you.

About Emma: I’ve been riding for six years, plan to start my college’s first equestrian club, and share a lovable but fiery OTTB named Beau with my dad, Mark. We plan to take Beau to his first eventing competitions next summer!