Ever since I was little, I had an obsession over horses. I would fall in love with how they can be so dangerous but so beautiful. Everyone has their own stereotypes on horses: "They will buck you off" or "don't walk behind them they will kick you." These are hardly true, you have to know what you're doing in order to stop these things from occurring.
The first thing I learned when I was an ever little ball of fat wanting to ride was that horses sense you're anxious immediately. Me being anxious no matter what situation I am ever in made me even more nervous to ride a horse. I remember my first ride. I was in South Carolina and I pretended I knew what I was doing. Never do that on a horse. I squeezed my knees to signal "GO" in a horse's mind and ended up face-first in a pile of mulch. I could see the look on my instructor's face that blatantly said: "Oh, honey this ain't for you." I didn't feel discouraged though, it only made me want to work harder.
Three years later, I was the determined girl that I made up in my head. I rode the biggest horses, I rode the fastest horses, and I rode the horses everyone was too scared to ride. I liked the challenge. I was also pretty stupid... but that's beside the point. Some concussions, bruises, and a lot of blood later I discovered this was something that would be a part of my life for a while. I devoted my time to better my riding skills. I was fourteen when I broke my first horse. If you don't know what that means, it's basically taking a wild hooligan brat of a horse and turning them into an everyday riding horse. It took time to gain her trust and to let her know that she is safe.
Some people insist that being an equestrian is not a sport. You're wrong. We train, we practice, and we compete. It takes hours upon hours of days burning in the sun and late nights trying to improve everything you've engraved in your head. Heels down, shoulders back, and a sense of direction 24/7. The most common witty comeback I'll get is "the horse does all the work." This is a lie, let me tell you. The horse has power unlike us, they have height unlike us, and they have a special kind of beauty unlike us. They tend to go blank without a sense of good direction. There are so many things the eye can't see when a rider is competing. The rider's calves and thighs are squeezing while giving the horse a direction without being too obvious to the judge. Getting the job done while maintaining the perfect speed, power, and etiquette. Your fingers and hands have to lay in a certain pattern while your body feels completely off-balanced. You have to use your core strength to maneuver over jumps and cut around barrels.
Being an equestrian can also break your bank. The breeches, the tall boots, the equipment. It is a never-ending debt flowing out of your pocket. Horses need A LOT. Providing your horse with a healthy lifestyle may sum up to taking care of two children at once. Everything will go great for a couple of weeks and then you have to change their shoes, have a chiropractor come and evaluate them, and yes, they go to the dentist, too. The amount of fly-spray I have spent money on can probably take the United States out of debt at this point. Long story short, don't buy a horse if you don't have the means to support it.
This sport is another kind of lifestyle. It is an everyday commitment to bettering your skills, just like any other sport. Yes, it's hard but there is no better feeling than clearing a jump perfectly or finishing your time faster than you did prior. It's a rewarding feeling when you get a first place ribbon and you can walk away knowing you had a good ride. For me, looking back on the girl who put her saddle on backward at her first lesson, I have a sense of accomplishment knowing that I have made it to the point to teach others how to ride. I love to see people grow and to see them accept challenges they knew they couldn't before they believed in themselves. When I teach lessons and I see a little girl put a saddle on backward or fall face-first into the dirt, I think: "Oh honey, this is for you."