What is your day job and how often are you at the barn?
I work as a Research Analyst at a small consulting firm looking at project teams and organizations for capital projects. In a nutshell, I play around with data and coding all day long; it's super nerdy and dorky and I really enjoy it! I'm lucky enough to have a pretty set work schedule: I'm out at 5pm just about every day and rarely have to work late. That makes it easy to get out to the barn roughly 6 days a week. Sometimes life gets in the way and I have to miss a day or two, but usually my only non-barn day is Tuesday.
How do you plan your horse's training and show schedule around your work schedule? How often do you show?
I ride at a barn with quite a few working ammies, so our trainer is fantastic about being available during non-work hours. We have a well-lit indoor and outdoor so I can wait for it to cool down before hopping on in the summer! I generally lesson once a week and spend the other days on flatwork, conditioning, trail rides, bareback rides, etc. We try to mix it up. Frankie was a foxhunter and dabbled in eventing before I bought him to become my jumper, so we love hacking out and getting some exercise outside the ring. Even though he's new to the jumper ring, he's super broke and has a fantastic brain so my trainer rarely hops on. I've been able to refocus his abilities pretty easily with her guidance from the ground.
In general, I'll show once a month during show season (spring through fall). Here in VA we have tons of USEF rated shows nearby (HITS Culpeper, Upperville, etc.) and a really fantastic local VHSA circuit. This is my first year with Frankie and it looks like the plan is to do a couple rateds, a local or two, and then spend the fall doing fun stuff- we'll go XC schooling, go to a low-level horse trial, do some hunter paces to keep things fresh. I also like to plan one BIG show per year- this past February I spent a week down at HITS Ocala, and I'm saving up to hopefully go to Lake Placid or Vermont next summer.
I have a decent amount of vacation time that I can use to take a Thursday or Friday off to show, but it definitely takes discipline and sacrifice. My family doesn't live in the area and any vacation time I use to show is vacation time I can't use to visit home. My parents and siblings are wonderfully supportive and encouraging and I try to make it back for major occasions, but I do sometimes have to say no to visiting home because I have a show on the schedule. And that can be really tough.
What do you find you struggle with most as an adult amateur? And how do you overcome that?
Budget. Oh my gosh budget. I did the hunters and equitation on my gelding growing up and was fortunate enough to have super supportive parents. I worked at the barn five days a week after school and in return, they paid for everything. Shout out to Mom and Dad for being the real MVPs. Now I'm on my own and paying for everything and OUCH. Of course I want to go to every single show and buy Frankie every shiny pretty thing I see. And to be honest, I have a major problem with breeches - I want ALL of them. But I also have rent to pay, groceries to buy, a car to maintain, etc. As much as I want to spend every paycheck on riding and showing, I have to very, very carefully plan out where every nickel is going every month. There are times I get nervous sweats because my bank account is giving me anxiety and CRAP I already sent in my entry for the next show please, please, please let my paycheck clear today. I'm not really sure how I make it work- a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and ordering tap water at happy hour. It's all about prioritizing and for me, my number one priority is Frankie. I'd rather cut some corners in other parts of my life to make sure he has everything he needs to be happy and healthy, and we can go compete together.
What's been the best advice you've received and what advice would you give other adult amateurs?
I'm actually going to share the worst advice I've been given, because I like the reminder: don't get so caught up in riding that you lack balance in your life. To heck with that! Find your own balance, pursue your own passion, and throw your whole heart into whatever it is you want to do. Things are constantly shifting and changing and who knows what will happen down the road. Find a way to pursue your dreams right now. I'd rather say that I've put every inch of myself into something that brings me so much joy and fulfillment than look back and say, "I wish I had..."
In short: balance is overrated, follow your passions as far as you want.
What does being #AdultAmmyStrong mean to you?
We all have our own struggles to deal with - work, families, other commitments - but at the end of the day, we all choose to get up and go ride. We're not getting paid to ride and train - actually, just the opposite! But we still show up and put in the work and do the best we can for our horses.
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