Since I’ve moved back to Northern California, and a rural spot at that, the topic of horses has come up more than once already in my short time here. During one of these conversations, someone asked me if I thought riding and competing horses had an impact on my life and if so, what kind. There were a lot of things that came to mind, especially now that I’ve had some time to reflect as an adult. But because there were so many, what was the best answer?
There is the responsibility that riding and competing demands. Participating in a sport that requires you to take care of another being is different than a lot of other sports. Yes, I know teammates do that for each other, but my horses were my sole responsibility, I couldn’t say to them “go the gym and workout so we’re ready next weekend.” It was my job to take care of all of us and make sure we were all ready.
Preparation is also something that came to mind. When you have a 7:30am ride time and have to get to the barn to feed, groom, and warm your horse up beforehand, you get used to identifying and doing as much prep work as humanly possible the night before so you can eke out just a few more minutes of sleep – especially when you’re seventeen and have been out the night before doing things seventeen year olds do.
But while I did learn about both of those things (and many others), to give them as answers seemed a bit cliché and a bit of a cop out. As a Horse Person (capital letters intentional), responsibility and preparation are simply how you live. They aren’t qualities that are separate from who you are or qualities that set you apart from anyone else. But anyone who is a Horse Person knows that there is something that just makes us different – not necessarily better or worse, just different, from everyone else.
So what is it and how does it play into life outside the barn? I actually struggled with this question for a while. I knew my confidence and ability to stay focused while remaining flexible and creative came from my years of riding. And even though I have a lot of stereotypes working against me in my corporate America career (I’m a woman, I’m petite, and I’m blonde) I’ve done well and been able to manage the career and jobs I want. But how are these related to riding? In my heart of hearts, I knew they were related but it wasn’t until a friend posted this picture, that the pieces all fell into place – especially in managing my corporate career.
It’s true. All of it. And while I learned so much more than what this poster includes, the confidence that comes from building a relationship with, and learning to stand your ground against, a half-ton animal is something that carries into every aspect of my life from parenting to partnering to business. And as a parent, especially if your child is shy, something I recommend thinking about if they ever come to you and say, “Can I ride a horse?”