By: Meagan DeLisle
We are all guilty of it, live streaming the Olympics (and Pony Finals- how the heck did those two wind up on the same week?) in the middle of a conversation and completely zoning out as we watch these horses go by and dream of the day our name will flutter across the big screen.
My husband has learned that if my phone was tilted sideways, I was in ‘do not disturb’ mode and that he should prepare himself for around 30 minutes of endless horsey talk after I put my phone down. Our barn had the #1 Large Green Pony Over Fences this year at Pony Finals, which landed him the Reserve Grand Champion title in the Large Green division which still has me in absolute awe and glee. Pair that with all of the excitement of the Olympics and Wayne has somehow found lots of projects around the house to escape the wrath of ‘horsey-wife.'
Let’s face it, I am a Hunter on a green OTTB. And while I want to one day transition into the Jumpers, the Olympics aren’t exactly in my near future (and Pony Finals are, sadly, way out of my age range. I got into the tight-pants-helmet-wearing-thing at around age 19 so I had already way beyond aged out of the excitement of Pony Finals, darn). But watching our team go around is spectacular, exciting, and nerve-wracking at the same time. It gives me goals and hopes and a few fears. It shows me the true challenges of what I hope to do. But I didn’t just stop there, I also watched all of Eventing and Dressage. I am not gutsy enough for Eventing or patient enough for Dressage, but I appreciate the beauty in what they do. I support all niches of equestrian athletes, because as an equestrian, I feel as if that is what we should do.
I have dabbled in a little bit of many disciplines. I started out riding western and did a tiny bit of barrel racing, learned a little about team roping, started in the Equitation and the Hunters in college where I also learned a bit about Western Pleasure. For one summer I took a few lessons under a Eventing coach to see if I thought I could handle the thrill of the sport (side note-nope, I couldn’t, I did much better in the dressage lessons than the cross country lessons). After college I learned how to drive a draft team and spent the fall pulling a cart with the sweetest team of Belgian mares you would ever meet (That is the one thing about horses my husband does get behind, he thinks draft horses are the true horses of the world and wants a pair of drafts and a cart for fun. If he thinks my horse is expensive, try feeding a pair of Belgians haha). Now that I’m back in the saddle my goal is to get Joey trained in the Hunters and then move him into the Jumpers! And the one thing I have realized is that no matter what tack I was in, what boots I had on, it was the love of the horse that kept me going. I loved every second of what I was doing as long as horses were involved. That is where we, as equestrians, need to root our appreciation for other disciplines. We all share the same thing, our love for these animals!
The coolest thing about AdultAmmyStrong is that it shares stories from Amateurs of all different disciplines and lifestyles and shows us another side of an industry we all care deeply for. If we didn’t have a passion for this, we wouldn’t be doing it. Nothing about pursuing a ‘career’ in the equestrian industry is easy. It is expensive which means we often are balancing another busy career alongside with our saddle time to maintain our passion, the hours are long, it is physically tolling as well as mentally exhausting. We travel A LOT which can be hard if you have a family or a desire to have a life outside of work and your horse. It isn’t easy to get your start if you don’t have the ability to buy the $100,000 horse to get you in Grand Prix ring right away. But man, if you love this sport, if there’s a will there is a way. So many people tell horror stories about the horse world. That there are mean, conniving people out there just wanting to take you for everything you have without a care in the world. That no one has your best interest in mind, they just want to better themselves. I want to argue that. I, personally, haven’t seen that. Sure, there are going to be bad eggs in every basket, but for every bad horseperson I have dealt with, I have met a dozen more genuine, good hearted people who look out for me daily. People who like my statuses on Facebook and comment on my pictures of Joey and watch my progress and are excited to see us grow. People who haven’t seen me in years but cheer me on online as if they are my biggest fans. People who shoot me a message every now and then to give me a word of advice or to lift me up after I make a goofy, sarcastic joke online when I make a human error that leads to my butt hitting the ground.
I see too many people online tearing apart other equestrians these days and it breaks my heart. We are all here, doing these amazing things for the same reason- because we love the horses. I am so excited that AdultAmmyStrong has allowed me the opportunity to write each month and connect with each and every one of you, because reading your stories and seeing you all grow, inspires me. It gives me hope for my G.I. Joe and I! It shows me that our Amateur community doesn’t have to be a negative one, that we can come together and be a positive place for us to thrive together and to support one another. And for that I want to thank you and to challenge each and every one of my fellow ammies to take it out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Try something new. Go take a lesson in a discipline you have never done before and be the new kid. Remember what its like to start all over. Its humbling. And it teaches you a whole new respect for the power and the heart of the animals we get to work with every single day.
Thank you ammies! You guys are great!