Having spent yesterday indoors due to the single digit weather and bad road conditions I had a lot of time to catch up on some reading, research and paperwork. I was pleasure reading through some Flip articles on my iPad and I came upon an article that triggered something in me that I have tried for years to keep in my own mind and I've tried to keep reminding students and fellow riders of for years. That is the fact that as riders most of us grow up with Grand Prix and Olympic dreams....and most of us don't get there in the time frame we want to make those dreams happen. Though by all means that does not mean we are failures in any way shape or form.
The Young Rider dreams and Junior year medals and finals that are out there to be won are something that so many young people hear about and dream of, and yet without the extensive funds to pay for show fees, travel, training costs, pricey high end horses, etc. those dreams are hard to meet. I grew up dreaming of Grand Prix's and Olympics as well but with a very limited budget, and having to work my way up through whatever I wanted to do. As a rider I learned that there's no rush to get to those Grand Prix and Olympic dreams done, there's no time limit on those dreams and as a rider I've learned that having to work my way through things and really try for what I want is a good thing. It makes you appreciate all that you have accomplished, from the training in the young horse you bought, or the rescue horse you took on, to the riding position you worked for years to acquire and the eye that you had to work on to get to the point where you could see your distances. Each thing you had to work on over the years is something you appreciate forever in the years to come because you put the time and effort, the blood, sweat and tears into making it happen without it just being handed to you and taking everything for granted as so many people do these days.
As a horse person I've learned that the horse industry needs as many people as it can to do all the different jobs out there, from being a perfectionist groom, to a nutritionist, to a rider and a vet. The horse industry is much more like a small entrepreneurial business in the aspect that if you want to be successful you have to be innovative and ahead of the game, offering something that the next person doesn't offer or changing your business just that little bit so that you have that skill that no one else in your area has. I've tried to make my business that way by creating my own riding and training career that is well rounded and focuses on a variety of training aspects that allow each of my students to pick and choose what they want to do riding-wise. If one of my students is a hunter and wants to try dressage I by all means will encourage it. That was the best way I learned was being a well rounded rider and being able to get on anything and make the magic happen, from young green horses to fully trained upper level Grand Prix dressage horses, eventers, or hunter/jumpers.
As a rider and and a horse person you learn as you go that the learning process and education of your own skills is never ever finished. Any trainer that "stops learning" or thinks they are at the top of their game is behind the curve. You also learn that the goals won't go away, they just might be put on hold until opportunity presents itself. I still have goals to reach, I would love to go to the Olympics one day, and train upper level riders. Being as young as I am I know there is still plenty of time to accomplish these things, and I will never stop myself from dreaming those dreams and working towards them every little step at a time. ALL riders should remember these important things and keep them in mind with their own riding careers and keep their dreams alive no matter what. Take time to enjoy the ride and the journey along the way is the biggest part of it all.
"An Open Letter to Junior Riders (or Anyone With Aspirations of Greatness)"