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,
I want you to know that things are going to be hard before they get better.
Right now you’re 15 and I know you feel like your world is crumbling around you.
Your parents pulled you from the riding program you were in, you don’t have access to horses, and you won’t ride again for at least a couple of years. It’s going to hurt, you’re going to be angry, and you’ll cry more than you’ve ever thought was humanly possible.
But I want you to know that your parents made the right decision in taking you away from horses and a coach who had taken such deep advantage over you. It’ll take years for you to unpack what happened to you, to realize that your coach wasn’t just hard on you, that they abused you, and they had absolutely no shame or remorse in doing so.
You’ll heal, but what happened to you will be a weight that you carry with you for the rest of your life, and something that determines how you choose to impact the world around you.
I want you to know that you’ll find your way back to horses.
As broken as you feel, there’s this grit you have, this determination that can never be tempered or compromised with, and it will serve you well as you continue growing and learning.
You’ll be 17 when you start riding again, and you’re going to find a coach that sees how hurt you are and gives you the space to grow, learn, and become the woman you’re meant to be.
You’re going to learn what riding is without the fear, shame, and the violence that has always tainted your experience.
You’re going to find out that you LOVE dressage.
That there is something so healing and uplifting about connecting movements fluidly, that there’s nothing that can’t be solved by returning to and refining the basics, and that there is always room for growth no matter how advanced you are.
I know you’re wondering, do we ever get a horse of our own? One that we don’t have to worry about loving so deeply only to lose over time?
His name is Achates, he’s an off the track thoroughbred, and is the cutest chestnut you’ll ever see.
It takes years but he becomes your partner, and your relationship with him makes you into the kind of horsewoman you’ve always imagined becoming. One who is sensitive, kind, and doing all she can to implement progress in the sport that she loves.
With Achates you are going to do so much. Go to shows, attempt trail riding (you’re both terrible at it but hope to get better in time), move away from home to pursue your equestrian education, and teach so many young riders the joy of what it is to ride a horse.
Eventually you’ll be joined by another horse, Basilio, and your journey with him is one that is still unfolding in front of me right now.
I want you to know that he’s talented, and everything you’ve ever wanted in a horse of your own. I want you to know that these two amazing horses are coming your way. That the loneliness you feel right now isn’t permanent. It will pass and one day soon you will be surrounded by the kind of people and community that you’ve always hoped for.
I told you at the beginning of this that things will get hard before they get better.
And knowing what’s coming your way next, I wish I could shield you from every bit of pain, but I can’t. So I want you to know that your life will get better.
It will get better because of you and the choices that you’re making right now.
I want you to know that you’re courageous in a way that so many people wish they could be. That you’re honest and sometimes that means people you consider friends won’t stick around. That there’s this ferocity in you that needs no taming despite what others tell you.
But more than anything I want you to know that you belong in this sport. That horses are meant for you. That no one gets to deny you what’s yours.
Things will be hard before they get better. But they do get better.
You’re going to do amazing things Anu, things you would have never thought possible, but you make it happen. Because there’s this power inside of you, an ember that’s just waiting to catch a breath of air so it can ignite.
Your journey is just starting and right now I need you to pick yourself up and make the choice to keep moving forward. Please take that first step towards healing and becoming the person you were meant to be. I promise you won’t regret it.
Anu, Achates, and Basilio
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