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 Me,
When I think of you, I think of the song “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe. And you know this song really fits me and you. So here is my twist of the song and what I would say to you:
“Dear Rookie me,
Where do I start?
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far,
then you could be
one step ahead
of all the painful memories still running through my head.
I wonder how much different things would be.
Dear Rookie me,
I can’t decide.
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life?
Or do I go deep
and try to change
the choices that you’ll make, because they’re the choices that made me.
Even though I love this crazy life,
sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
If I knew then what I know now,
fear and doubt would’ve had no power.
My joy, my pain would’ve never been my worth.
If I knew then what I know now,
it wouldn’t have been hard to figure out what I would’ve changed if I had learned.”
Rookie Me, you have probably come to realize how different you are. With all that seems good, you are frustrated with yourself. You rarely fit into one category because your interests are so broad. You feel awkward because you are a girl that has big hands and big feet (feet that are bigger than most guys you know).
You recognize that your priorities are different from others your age. While you watch other girls pair up with guys and go out, you still dream about horses and think about the latest news in the equestrian world. Your peers talk to you about what is deemed “normal” stuff and you sit and listen uncomfortably because the life you enjoy living is so different that you don’t know what to say.
And even though you feel backwards at times because you don’t see things the way most do, it is ok because you see things others don’t. You might feel alone, but no matter what stage in life that you are in when you read this, just know that I understand.
When I look back at you, I see a work in progress. Yeah, it’s going to be tough, but all good things come with time.
From your future self, I am going to take a trip down memory lane to tell you some things. When you were young, I know you had lots of big dreams, you still do. You have dreams that you spend many hours, years even, calculating, turning over, processing, and laying out plans. Plans that you will wonder if you will ever get the opportunity to put into action.
You have dreams that you want to become a reality, but you are second-guessing because they might just be a foolish whim. What I have learned is to dream on. Keep planning. And write your dreams and plans down. You will be so glad that you did. You never know when an opportunity will come and will make those dreams that seem so far away, so close that you can touch them.
If you write them down, then you will be able to go back and reflect on how far you have come.
Remember all those early mornings that you were watching the sun rise from your bedroom window, and you would look out at the fields and see someone else’s horse?
You would pray to God for one of your very own. No matter how many days passed that turned into weeks, that turned to months, and that even took years, you kept asking. Well, keep on praying. Don’t stop praying. Pray even when it seems like it’s not working. It might seem like an eternity, but God will give you one. It might not be exactly how you want it to be, but in the end it will be exactly what you need and more.
I know this sounds fairytale-ish, but trust me, in time you will get your wish. And it will be more than what you had imagined.
You will spend hours taking care of someone else’s horse, and wishing you had one. Despite not having a horse of your own yet, you will be happy to have the chance to work and care for a horse. You will want to build a relationship with this horse, even though you know her owner might have an even closer relationship with her.
Keep this in mind–don’t grow discontented. I know it will be very easy to grow dissatisfied, but you get to be with a horse and you have the chance to work with her even though she has a person that she belongs to.
When you finally get a horse of your own, she will come as an unexpected blessing… and she will be free! You will be so ready to start living your dream that you will do anything to get you a step closer to your end goal. You will remember all the horse books and articles you read and all the videos that you watched.
You will be able to do the things you have watched others do, but you won’t have the best of everything.
You won’t have all the tack that you might want and need, as a matter of fact, starting out, you won’t have a saddle or bridle. But you will still be thankful because you have your own horse. You will hop on your horse with a halter and lead ropes to ride her.
There will be someone who will make you feel like what you did isn’t good enough because it isn’t “the proper way.” Listen to what I am about to say, don’t let what was said get to you. You are doing something that not many people get the chance to do. And it might not be the best way, you will know that, but it is the best you can do at the time.
Sometimes, people don’t understand that. But you will do better and keep doing better when you can.
You will be with some horse friends, and you will tell them some of your plans because they will ask you “what do you want to do with horses?” When you tell them what you want to do, it will make you feel like the odd one out. You will find out what they really think of you — that they think you are moving too fast, just because you have a goal and you are trying your hardest to get there.
It will make you feel like you are being singled out.
Here is what I learned. Hold your head up! Don’t let others’ thinking hinder your dreams.
Not everyone can accept your dreams. It is a sad reality, but not everyone will be for you. People who you think are friends, people that you think would understand you because they are horse people like you, will not be. You will come to the bitter realization that sometimes those who are closer to you are the ones who prove not to be for you.
Sometimes, though, those who are not close to you, prove to be your biggest allies.
You will find out that one of your trainers will tell someone else that you will never be a horse trainer, and that you will never amount to anything, because that trainer won’t really think much of you.
It will hurt you terribly because your trainer should be the one in your corner, not whispering behind your back. You will be angry because you try your hardest at everything, and your own trainer will say one thing to you, then another to someone else. Hey, let me tell you that it will hurt very much. The sting of those words will never leave.
I can tell you this because I still feel it even though years have passed.
But you are strong and you are a fighter. Keep going and push harder. Prove that person wrong. Don’t let what that person says get you down. Use that to motivate you to go farther.
Let me let you in on something: if that trainer was to see me now (your future self), that person would be trying to get the credit for where I am today. But that person can’t have any credit, because that person tore me down instead of helping me up.
And here is something else. All of your trainers will say to you “heels down,” and no matter what you do your heels will stay up. You will try and try, and riding will start becoming painful. You will love to ride, you will love to jump, but it will cause a lot of physical pain in your heels. It will get so bad it will make riding less enjoyable, yet you will still crave the sense of freedom and the relief you get when you are in the saddle.
You will see how your pain and stiffness are affecting your horse and then you will feel like you aren’t getting anywhere and that you are doing more damage than good. You will find out that your worst problem is actually a real physical limitation.
As frustrating as it will seem, you will find it odd that you are a bit relieved instead of scared. All those times you will fall off the horse, all those times you will strain to the last inkling of your power, it is not because you aren’t trying your hardest. You will get injured and will go to the doctor who will tell you that your calf muscles are too tight and your body can’t do it. Your body is different.
It may be because you were born like that or it may be because of the toe walking that your parents were concerned about you doing all your life. I am gonna tell you something that you might not want to hear: you might not ever get your heels down and that is okay. Don’t let anyone pressure you and make you feel like you have to do more than you are physically able.
Riding is supposed to be fun, that is the reason we ride in the first place! Don’t risk being in pain or injuring yourself just to look like everyone.
You already have big hands that don’t fit in the average glove sizes and you have big feet that force you to shop for men’s shoes. These are things you can do nothing about. Just try to do what you can and accept your physical limitations and that your body is different. Then you won’t be as discouraged.
You want riding to be fun, and your love for horses will have a major impact in your life.
There are so many more things I could tell you. I want you to know that something good will happen to you and for you. Right now for me, your future self, it is Sisters Horsing Around. I had big dreams for our vlog when I started with our little sister Sarah, and I would have never imagined that I would end up where I am today.
I want to tell you, just like I was told when we started Sisters Horsing Around, remember those in your community who look like you, with skin and hair like yours. There are people out there who would love to have the chance and the opportunity to own a horse and to ride. You can help them, be there to encourage them, and be the person to them that you needed someone to be for you.
Try to reach as many different people as you can because everyone needs to experience something good in their lives.
I already know you are listening (well, reading), but I want you to pay close attention to what I am about to say. You might not be where you want to be right now. You might not be who you want to be right now. But don’t give up.
Keep praying, persevere, stay the course, and one day, with hard work and dedication, the trials and pain you have faced will all be rewarded. Don’t focus on the negatives, count your blessings, keep your eyes on the prize. And remember to sit up, shoulders back, and add more leg!
From your future self,
Sisters Horsing Around
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Media Guide: Sisters Horsing Around
- Letter to My Rookie Self: Sarah Harris
- Media Guide: Young Black Equestrians Podcast
- Braided: A Herd Dynamic (Horse Rookie Diversity Initiative)
- When Should You Start Horse Riding Lessons
- Small Business Spotlight: The Positive Equestrian
- How to Ride and Show Horses Without a Trust Fund