As I write this I can still feel the stain of sweat across my forehead and smell so poorly even my dog won’t sit in the same room as me. This must be possibly the 10th, no 15th consecutive 14-hour day I’ve spent this way and no vacation is on the calendar. My eyes are so blood-shot that even in the mile high state, I still get stares as I wander the grocery store, but that could also be from the leather seat pants and trail of hay I’ve left behind.
Days like this inspiration is hard to find, so the evenings are spent flipping from YouTube videos of Charlotte Dujardin to articles and livestreams on Eventing Nation while listening to a playlist I made when I was a working student labeled “The Glory Days.”
At this age all of my former classmates are getting close to degrees, thinking about marriage or, god forbid, having children. Not me. A college dropout who endures the backlash that’s paired with the title, but I don’t feel the shame.
Although I’m sure friends and family mean well when they say that finishing that degree or getting a reliable job is the safer route, I will not listen. That lifestyle did not satisfy the itch.
We all know the itch. It’s that restless feeling that nags at your thoughts and dictates your daydreams. It’s that voice that mutters in your ear that you’re meant for more. It’s that desire that can only be silenced by excellence.
I found myself getting better weekly marks from amused professors on the horse doodles that occupied my papers rather than the content of the assignment. That’s when I knew three more years of this to only settle for half of the life I’ve dreamt of would never fulfill the itch.
I may not be where 13-year-old me would have expected and my life is nowhere near glamorous, but for now I am content. Every day I spend more time in the saddle and gain more experience in the barn. I’m fortunate enough to work off board and lessons at my hometown barn by mucking stalls and I make ends meet with various part time jobs in retail or waitressing.
Even though life is up in the air, I know one thing is certain. I will make my way in this business and I will work harder than what is expected. I will show up early and I will stay late. I will take criticism and I will learn from my mistakes. I will observe from those who have made it and I will grow from their wisdom. I know that all that alone is not a guarantee to see you to the Rolex arena, but I refuse to not try.
We all know the equestrian world is one for the wealthy. I know I am not the only one who can admit to feelings of jealousy. When those with less experience and half the work ethic constantly take home the blue ribbons on their imports this industry has a way of seeming unfair. But in jealousy, I have been humbled, and for it victories seem sweeter and every opportunity seems greater.
I am thankful for the time various professionals have spent investing in my future through lessons and clinics and those who have shared their knowledge through articles and books. I especially want thank individuals with a generous heart who make this dream a reality for those can’t afford it.
Each year I see more opportunities in the form of grants, syndicates, and numerous scholarships change the shape of fellow competitors. I am grateful for the recipients and relish with them the victories that are paired with these prosperities. I also hope that contributors continue to see the effects their donations have on the future of this sport, and only hope that people continue to give so that even if I never reach my dreams, others continue to reach theirs.