It’s so surreal to me that I’ve been riding this horse a year. A year. With a three month break so really more like nine months. For years I was the most nervous rider – I wouldn’t go on a trail ride, even on my dead broke QH. The slightest thing was enough to make me want to get off, much less my horse deciding he didn’t have brakes that day. I had reason to feel this way, but I thought that would be why I’d always be a QH rider or maybe if I got brave, I’d go do the hunters.
An eventer? Me? Never in a million years.
And then this week, here we were. Galloping around, having the time of our lives. Trusting the hell out of my amazing chestnut opinionated Saddlebred (who got like 59053809 compliments this week and deserved every single one of them). Feeling like I’ve found my place. Where I can be brave and do hard things and challenge myself a little bit more every day.
There’s a line in the Auburn creed that says, “I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.” The last line of my RoadID says “& a spirit that is not afraid” because sometimes I need that little reminder. (And I just love that line, okay?)
My friends may tease me (lovingly) that I went to pony camp and that I’m always at the barn, but this makes me the best version of myself. It makes me braver, it makes me grittier, it makes me happier. And it may be dressage or jumpers or endurance or western pleasure for you, but for me right now? It’s eventing.
It’s a reminder that I can do hard things.
2018 has been a year of hard things. I broke my back. I left my job the beginning of June, under less than ideal circumstances. I’ve felt lost and sad and useless and I’m simultaneously overqualified and underqualified and I’m “not the one” and I’m ‘just not the priority’ or “it’s not you, it’s me”. But this week was a week where a group of people I’d never met stepped up and cheered and said, “Yes, you can!” and celebrated when I did.Where people laughed at antics, cheered when you conquered something (hey, I see you coffin jump), never let you leave the barn without a, “Have a great ride!” Where I was told, “You are enough, you are good, you have this” and I believed them.
It may seem deep and emotional for a week of pony camp, but the things this week taught me run a lot deeper than the barn. I did this week on my own – I hauled myself, unloaded, tacked up, fed, hooked up the trailer, hauled home, parked (!!) the trailer. Things I never had to do all by myself because I had the world’s greatest horse show mom. But at the same time – I didn’t do it on my own at all – I did it surrounded by a village of people.
I got through grad school knowing I could do hard things. And then somewhere in the last two years, I lost myself a little bit. I settled. I stopped challenging myself. I didn’t know what I wanted – in my career, relationships, living situation, hell, I didn’t know what I wanted for dinner most nights.
So it may just be a stadium oxer or a blue rolltop in a field, but this week it was a lot more to me. It was the stretching of muscles that haven’t been used in a while, the getting back out there, the getting back on the (literal and figurative) horse. It was deciding what I wanted and going after it, full steam ahead, teeth gritted, not afraid of a little blood, sweat and dirt.
It was me, becoming an eventer.