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Letter to My Rookie Self: Louise Richards

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Written by Louise Richards

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 know that you’re fighting an uphill battle and that things aren’t really working out the way you want them to. Believe me when I say that if you keep on fighting, you’ll come up so much stronger and more confident at the end of your journey.

I know you love horses just as much as you fear horses, and conquering this fear is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do. It’s not easy to go against your instincts, but even instincts can be wrong sometimes. Your love for horses must overcome your fear of them, and it will. You have to believe it.

It’s an irrational fear—no horse has ever harmed you and yet you can’t help but shiver in your boots at the sight of one. You’re still young, so there’s plenty of time to work on your insecurities. The trick is to actually do the work, show up every day, and track your progress.

Remember why you’re doing this.

You could move on to other things, try other skills, work with different animals, but that’s not what you really want. You want to prove to yourself, to your friends, and to your family, that you can work with horses, ride them, and care for them.

You need to be able to handle yourself in their company because they are your favorite animals in the whole wide world. They were always there when you grew up, they represent an important part of your family, and your environment.

You might not be able to make sense of it right now, but it will all click into place in a few years’ time. The first thing you need to do is get to the root cause of the problem. Only then can you take steps to improve, to better yourself.

Choose the right horse.

The relationship that forms between a horse and its rider is unique. It is powerful, and it can be life-changing. Finding the right horse is key if you want to be able to truly progress. Your horse will help you just as much as your trainer will. Not with words, not with instructions, but with small acts, gentle sounds, and reactions.

You’ll know once you’ve found the right one. And your life will be forever changed from that point on.

Don’t let failure discourage you, but don’t get too used to it either.

We all fail, the trick is to learn from it. That being said, we shouldn’t settle for failure, and we shouldn’t welcome it with open arms. You need to understand that failure is part of the process, but failing too much can indicate a wrong approach.

Keep a cool head even when things get rough. Take a few steps back and get some perspective.

What did you do wrong? What can you do to improve? Is this exercise helping, or hindering, your journey? I’m telling you all of this because I know you have a tendency to overreact. Don’t try to deny it! It’s a part of who you are.

Lean on your friends, but don’t expect them to do the work for you.

You’re fortunate to have good friends at your side. There’s nothing wrong with unburdening your fears and worries, but don’t expect your friends to get in that saddle for you.

Take all the encouragement and positive energy that you can, but always remember that some battles need to be fought alone.

I hope that this letter has helped you at least in some small way. I can’t give you specifics, and I can’t lend you my experience. You’re a horse rookie, after all, and horse rookies have their work cut out for them. What I can tell you is that everything will be alright as long as you trust yourself, the process, and that beautiful horse that waits for you in the barn.

Love, Louise

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About the author


Louise Richards

I am currently studying to become an equine nutritionist at Texas A&M University in College Station. Interacting with horses from an early age has taught me that these wonderful animals need constant care and understanding. No two horses are exactly the same. They each have their own needs and wants, and unique personalities.