Well, that's a wrap! I'm writing this from the plane headed back to Northern Virginia from from my first winter weekend in warm (wet) Wellington, Florida. This marks the start of what will be my second season competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and I still pinch myself each time I step foot on the grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. It was something I dreamed of most of my life and to finally be living that dream doesn't quite seem real.
As you can imagine, the people and horse watching at WEF is pretty epic. It is the best place to catch the latest in equestrian fashion and equipment, the pony kids are absolutely adorable, and the horses are impeccably turned out. On top of that, the entire US Equestrian Team is based in Wellington all winter so it's not strange to pop over to the International Ring and catch Beezie Madden riding one of her up and coming stars. Last year, I watched George Morris and Tori Colvin have a conversation and I couldn't help but wonder who was teaching who in that moment.
On Saturday, I managed to catch Mary Kate's round. As she came around the turn, she was grinning from ear to ear! She was having a blast! At that moment, I realized that she was just like the rest of us adult amateurs. Granted she had three horses in the class to my one, but she loves horses and she loves to ride. She balances a personal and professional life with her horses just like the rest of us. At the end of her round, she was still smiling and gave her horses a great big pat. And guys, she's good! She ended up winning the class that day!
Benji and I placed 7th in the Adults on Friday and 9th in the Classic on Saturday.
I spent the rest of the weekend watching the dynamic between her, her trainer, the other riders, and spectators. No one seemed to care who she was or that she's a former child star turned world-famous fashion designer. The announcer's voice didn't change when he said her name over the loud speaker, she was still expected to be in the ring on time, her trainer didn't seem to treat her any differently than any other trainer treats their student and she warmed up over the same fences as the rest of us. Yep, I shared dirt with Mary Kate Olsen. This weekend, she was just like the rest of us. While the rest of the world is wondering why she and her sister aren't doing "Fuller House," she was down in Wellington riding her horses and enjoying it!
Whether you’re a college student, an attorney, an accountant, a mom, or a fashion designer, balancing your personal and/or professional life with your competition life is no easy task. It’s extremely challenging to leave that looming deadline outside of the ring or to forget about that argument that you got into with your significant other the night before while you try to focus on those eight or more jumps that are set out in front in front you.
Riding horses isn’t easy, but the positive effects that it has on one’s soul far outweigh the challenges. At the end of the day, we ride for the love of the horse and we will continue to juggle in order to make precious time for our equine pursuits. And while we are in the saddle, we just want to be riders.