Equestrian Advice: This is part of our Letter to My Rookie Self series, an open letter equestrian reflection project. Learn more and/or submit your own letter here.
Dear Rookie Self,
You’re probably wondering if we have made it to the Paralympics yet, or at least have a horse to call our own. Well, we haven’t reached either of those goals, but we’re working on it!
I’m here to tell you that I’m so glad you never gave up on your dreams and that you never lost your love for horses. I know you begged and begged mom and dad for your own horse—and when that didn’t work—riding lessons. Well guess what, it paid off!
You’ve been riding consistently for five years, and your lesson horses Shane and Cappy are your whole world.
In those five years, you’ve done more to progress toward your goals than you ever thought would have been possible. You’re a USEF competing member, are a nationally classified Grade 1 para-dressage rider, have ridden several dressage tests, and even won your first blue ribbon! There’s lots more too, but I would be here all day if I had to list it all, haha.
All that learning about horses and engaging with horse related content through books and movies has really come in handy, huh?
You’ve made so many cool friends because of social media and have collaborated with brands like Kerrits Equestrian Apparel to share your story and raise awareness about cerebral palsy and para-equestrian sport, as well as advocate for greater inclusion of para-equestrians in equestrian media.
You were featured in a series about diversity and inclusion in US Equestrian magazine last year. You’re using your platform for good, and so many people have reached out to you to say how you’ve helped them better understand people with disabilities and the struggles you face. It feels amazing!
We had to go through a lot of hardships to get here, there were a lot of people that only saw you as a liability on their insurance, didn’t believe in you or gave you weird looks because of your chair.
Sometimes, even if they did see your potential, the fact that they didn’t have a safe enough horse for you, or the grounds weren’t accessible, meant that you had to give up on the opportunity.
Don’t worry though, the best people you met along the way still support you and are doing the best they can to help.
You’re so grateful for everyone who has shown their support in any way, and because of those hardships you have found your support team. Being a para-equestrian is not easy, but your support team gets so excited whenever they see you grow that it gives you the strength to keep going.
The things that are meant for you will always find you. Don’t worry about the fact that some people have done more than you or have reached your goals before you. Everyone is on a different path and has access to different resources.
Do your best to remember that comparison is the thief of joy.
The only person you are truly competing against is yourself and your own doubts. Give yourself more credit, you are doing the best you can with what you have and the work you put in shows. Slow progress is better than no progress. No matter what, you’re making your dreams come true one step at a time.
Keep crushing it, I love you.
Sending warm hugs and all the positive vibes,
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Write Your Own Letter to My Rookie Self
- Media Guide: Young Black Equestrians Podcast
- Braided: A Herd Dynamic (Horse Rookie Diversity Initiative)
- Letter to My Rookie Self: Emily Harris
- Letter to My Rookie Self: Sarah Harris
- Small Business Spotlight: The Positive Equestrian