Just Keep Going

Lila and Vinnie! Xc school, photo: Ashley Neuhof, or AMN Photography Lila and Vinnie! Xc school, photo: Ashley Neuhof, or AMN Photography

For so many of us, life seems to revolve around instant gratification. This new digital age has created a double edged sword. Patience seems to be dwindling, while everything and anything you have ever wanted or needed literally sits in the palm of your hand.

Seconds go by, and some of us are desperate for updates, or comments, or likes, or feedback. Communication never seems to have an ending point, and yet nobody actually appears to be talking to one another. Ten people sit down for dinner at a restaurant and the very first thing they do is simultaneously check their iPhone. It’s exhausting, addicting and terrifying.

What’s the rush? Where are all the one and one conversations, in person, you know, as in speaking to a live person standing in front of you? Where are your thoughts, and what’s happened to critical thinking? Where are those moments and those memories that are sacred and not for the world to see?

This idea of patiently waiting for something and not giving up recently came to mind as Ive experience some turmoil in my life, some good, some great and some sad.

Throughout my life, no matter what, riding horses has remained a constant. Even though my riding has gone through waves, like all riders must feel at some point, I have never given up on this sport that I have basically dedicated my life to.

I don’t know a single rider who has never had doubts, or felt like throwing in the towel. If anyone ever said that eventing was an easy sport, that person must have been under the influence of some sort. Eventing is not an easy sport and can be incredibly humbling at times, and painful, and absolutely amazing.

Of course I have gone through times in my life where I thought, I will never reach certain goals, or I’ll never have THAT horse, or I am just not good enough, or what is the point of all of this, I’ll never get there, or probably the most reoccurring theme, I can’t afford this, I’ll never have enough money.

And yet, the alarm clock goes off every morning. I get out of bed, I feed my horses and I keep riding, no matter what, whether I have ten bucks in my bank account or a thousand. Maybe I’ll never get to Rolex, but I sure as hell won’t get to Rolex if I stop trying now.

Vinnie in Open Prelim at King Oak. 2015. Photo by Spotted Vision Photography.

Vinnie in Open Prelim at King Oak. 2015. Photo by Spotted Vision Photography.

I am 29 years old. I have literally been dreaming about becoming an upper level rider since I discovered this sport. It wasn’t until last year that I went Prelim and it wasn’t until this year that I completed my first CIC*.

There are practically kids who have gone intermediate. There are tons of young and talented riders who met these goals much earlier than I was able to. Lucky for me, this sport isn’t limited when it comes to age. You can ride and compete for as long as you want. There’s no cap, or cut off.

I also realize how pointless it can be to compare any rider to myself. If you are constantly comparing yourself to some other rider who has accomplished more, or has way more experience, you’ll always feel defeated and slightly worthless.

Eventing revolves around TWO variables: HORSE and RIDER. Not that horse and rider, or the one over there, but YOU and YOUR horse. That’s the only relationship that matters. You can only worry about and control what happens to you. Every horse and rider combination is different and there are no pairs that are identical.

Life throws us curveballs all the time. We can be blind sighted and we can feel totally defeated. I am constantly worrying about making enough money to support my dreams and to support my actual, every day existence.

I have my undergraduate degree, but sometimes I think, this is absolutely pointless. I should sell my horses, and go back to school and become a doctor or something, or a lawyer and actually have some money, or maybe I should find a 9-5 job and ride in my spare time.

Well, I don’t want to become a doctor or a lawyer. I want to ride horses, and that might sound incredibly naive, but that’s all I know. Horses and riding are what I know. How can I change routes now? How could I go sit in an office all day?

And then I think, just keep riding. Just keep getting better. Keep getting instruction and be a nice person. Other people are more likely to lend a hand, or support me if I am a nice individual.

One of the best pieces of advice that Denny has ever given me was this exact concept. Of course I have learned more than I can write down from this indivudial, but stepping out of my shy comfort zone and learning how to be more a likeable, and more outgoing person has turned my life around.

Being scared and shy had been so limiting and even though I continue to struggle stepping out of my shell, it’s literally the best pieces of advice I have ever received.

So until my debut at Rolex, I will continue to ride. I will continue to improve. I will continue to seek instruction. I will be diligent and practice everything I have been taught.

I will be patient and I will keep riding even when I am broke, and even though I am sore, and even when the going gets tough. The best advice I can offer anyone in a similar situation to myself is to JUST KEEP GOING!