I am a 19 year-old, college student with big dreams of the Grand Prix ring. I have grown up on the West Coast A circuit and am currently spending my summer working in Europe at a sales barn. I’ve devoted my entire life to this sport.
After a devastating last junior year, I quit riding. I was sitting on my hands and knees in July of 2015, scrubbing out storm drains at the barn I was a working student out, staring across the isle as rain poured down on the tin roof at my jumper, Junior. We’d gone from being on the NorCal Spruce Meadows Prix de Nations team in 2013 to not being able to get around a single course in 2 years. He was lame, I was burned out, and suddenly I couldn’t remember why I was even wasting my time scrubbing those drains.
After showing for 13 years, I hung up my helmet and swore that I had to quit or this sport would kill me.
Two weeks later I was trying out for my university’s polo team. Playing polo made me remember why I started riding: the horses. I quickly admitted to myself, I could not give up.
So, in November I swung up on my old horse Joker, who I had not seen in 5 years, and began chasing my dreams again. I spent the winter out in California with my mom, riding in her barn and finding that old fight that had made me the rider I used to be. I woke up everyday before dawn and didn’t leave the barn until after dusk.
That dedication paid off at HITS Thermal. I brought home top ribbons on not only Joker but the other catch rides I took on. It was on one of those catch rides that I was noticed by the owner of a sales barn located in the Netherlands. He saw potential and appreciated my dedication which led him to offering me a position as a rider at his barn, where I am now living and working as an unpaid intern.
It took me a long time to decide what to do with my life. I was living and attending college in Colorado but my heart was on the West Coast A circuit. So, I made the decision to abandon my life in Colorado and move to California in May. I will be starting my sophomore year at the University of San Diego in August.
The decision was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. Ultimately, it came down to admitting what I wanted in life: to ride. That was a terrifying realization. When everyone engrains the idea that you cannot be a rider and you should absolutely not go pro your entire life, you become scared of your own passion. Denying that this is my passion was what was making me miserable. I was trying to force myself to pursue a degree and a life that was meaningless because it did not include what makes me who I am, for better or for worse. Horses.
Finally, I admitted what I wanted and decided to ignore all the self-doubt and negative reactions. I just did it. Now, I am riding 8 horses a day and am happier than I have been in a long time.
No it will not be easy. But I never wanted easy. I wanted the Grand Prix ring. And, that is where I am headed.