At one time or another most children are asked that inevitable cliché question: So, (insert some random name here), what do YOU want to be when you grow up?
Some children answer swiftly and decidedly, I want to be an airplane driver, or I want to bake pies. Others look confused and bewildered by such a prodigious question.
Of course when I was asked this ridiculous question as a youngster I looked petrified and immediately ran the other way. How dare that big scary human ask me such a personal and difficult question? If I wasn’t so terrified of human beings, I probably would have answered with the following: I’d like to gallop and jump over huge brush fences with a chestnut with a big white face, just like National Velvet did!
For as long as I can remember I have been riding horses. I was hooked from day one. Even though I cried every time I fell off (which was weekly), and even though I was deathly afraid of jumping, and even though the thought of hanging out with other kids my age at riding camp was daunting, still I followed down the horse avenue.
Horses have always been IT for me. I understand horses. I love reading horses and communicating with horses. I love getting to know a new horses. I love the relationship you develop with your horse over time. I love the smell of a barn, the sound of horses munching on hay relaxes me, and having a horse trot up to you in a field is a pretty remarkable feeling.
Teaching a young horse how to jump, or learning what it’s like to jump an experienced horse is something else. The progress, the struggling, the ups and downs make it all wroth my while. I am an addict and there’s no cure in sight.
Every now and again, I’ll be sitting, chatting with a non-horsey human, and they will inevitably ask me what I do for a living. First of all, trying to describe the sport of eventing to someone who thinks mustangs and racehorses are the only horses known to man can present obvious challenges, especially when you begin by describing dressage.
Regardless, after being asked about my life and what I have done and am hoping to do raises certain questions and thoughts in my own mind. What if I didn’t ride, then what? Or, If I stopped riding horses right now, what the hell would I do, and why?
I can’t help but wonder from time to time what I would be doing with my life if I were not pursuing horses and riding as a career. I’m sure these thoughts have glossed over, or passed through other similar minds. In no way am I regretting my decisions or the direction my life has taken. I am beyond grateful and appreciative for this life and this particular journey.
I mean, seriously, how many people get to wake up every day and live their dream? How many people always dreamed of having a barn full of horses that they could ride every day, all day? I know this is a very specific lifestyle and I would not trade it for all the money in the world.
However, sometimes I catch myself thinking about those what ifs. What if I had gone into government type work? Or, what if I had gone to law school? Or, what if I had stuck with engineering as a major? Where would I be now? Where would I be living? Would I be happy? Would I be lonely? Would I feel fulfilled? Would I travel the world? Would I have more time for family vacations and baby showers and birthday parties? What if….
Thinking about the unknowns can be fun and exciting and it can also be formidable. Honestly, this all came to mind because I saw an old friends a few days ago and these questions resurfaced. I try and not dwell on the what ifs. I like to live my life now and look towards the future.
Things are constantly in flux, in life, on a horse farm, within the confines of your own personal riding bubble. Horses come and horses go. You change your goals and you create goals you never thought were humanly possible. You grow and you crash down.
To answer my initial question of what do I want to be when I grow up: I want to be doing exactly and precisely what I am doing right now.
I want to continue to compete next summer. I want to try and reach my next goal of doing a CIC * in August, I want to build my teaching program, I want to write more articles, I want to grow as a rider and as a trainer, I want to learn and I want to build better, stronger and lasting relationships with my horses. I want to be what I am, and I couldn’t be more excited about this journey!
If I can do this, so can you. Start by identifying your dreams in life, then chase them down!