I have sand permanently stuck between my toes, pieces of hay in places hay shouldn’t be, a layer of sawdust coating my eyes, sweat building up everywhere, blisters all over my feet and some awful tan lines. My recovering back is sore, there are ants that crawl on my plates, I can barely stand up in my shower, I have bruises covering both my legs, and my mind is tired from trying to remember who’s bridle belongs to who.
I’m surround by supplements, leather, stirrups, grain, medications, cross country fences, dressage rings, manure, half pads galore, an array of boots, a handful of fly masks, and some hanging plants. When I go “home” I walk into a camper with a bed barely big enough to fit me, no room for my clothes, three spoons, a fridge that can fit a few apples but not much else, and no service.
But am I complaining? No. These are just facts. I am a full time working student for Steph Kohr in sunny Florida with my horse of a lifetime. I am also running my own business, Madi Hunter Equine Services, in the few hours I am not working for Steph. And in the minutes between bites of cereal or in the time it takes me to walk to a paddock or clean a stall, I am dreaming of reaching the top of the eventing sport, with a horse I hope to acquire within a year or two.
And before you say it, yes, I do know I’m crazy, so you can save your breath there.
Being a working student is hard, working for yourself is sometimes harder, and trying to reach for the stars without a lot of money or any idea where to truly begin, is even harder than both of those combined.
Every morning I wake up to an incredible sunrise and incredible fog, and I get to go greet my best friend. I work hard all day, trying my best to get everything done on the list that Steph has left out for me. I get to ride a couple horses a day, if I’m lucky, and during lunch, I’m working towards accomplishing my own list of work. I’m lucky, I know this. I get to work with an amazing trainer and person each day, as well as spend it with my incredible horse, in addition to all of the other horses at the farm. I have access to top name trainers, multiple jump and dressage arenas, and a phenomenal cross county course, as well as trails to hack out on.
I didn’t get where I am today without a lot of blood, sweat and tears — literally. I’ve taken a number of bad spills, worked long days in all types of weather until I felt like I had sweated myself into a puddle, and I’ve cried a lot — because of frustration, feeling like I’m not good enough, but more importantly, because of pure joy.
I’ve worked incredibly hard to be the rider and the person that I am today, and I certainly do not think that I know everything there is to know nor do I think I ever will, but I learn something new every single day, and in all aspects of my life. I’ve always been a hard worker and I always will be — I will very literally work until I drop and then get up and keep going, I’ll work even if I’m not getting anything out of it financially, I will continue working after plenty of people have told me to stop, I’ll keep going no matter how tired I am and no matter how injured I am.
Horses are important to me and horses are what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be able to ride a four-star cross country course and have a thousand fans cheering for me. I want to be a reputable trainer — but most importantly, I want to be a horsewoman. I can’t get there alone, but I also can’t get there without devoting my whole self. I will find the supporters I need, in addition to all the emotional ones I have now, and I will one day make it to the top.
A friend of mine recently told me to just keep showing up — and that is exactly what I intend to do. I will show up every single day until I can turn around and not even recognize where I am!