Riding Tips

Letter to My Rookie Self: McKenzie Mae Brown

Written by McKenzie Mae Brown

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,

It took 13 long years, but your dream has finally come true. You finally have your own horse!

This happiness and passion you feel right now, hold onto that.

Treasure this moment and remember it when you grow older and face bigger challenges.

When you start to feel discouraged or lost, just remember how happy you were when you heard the words, “She’s yours.”


Remember your “Why.”

Remember to be grateful and thank your family often because you wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

Even though your family may not know a single thing about horses, they support you no matter what.

Be thankful for that and make sure to show them gratitude.

As you grow with your horse, don’t forget you are still learning. You may think you know everything, but just trust me — you are young and naive. You still have so much to learn, so educate yourself.

When you aren’t taking lessons, learn anyway.

Look up the answers to your questions, and don’t forget to read every horse book on your shelf — even if you have already read every page more than once.

Don’t just learn about riding teach, yourself the other important things like how to put on and adjust different tack. Even try learning horse anatomy!

Learn as much as you can now, otherwise your future self will regret it.

mckenzie running barrels

Dare to be different.

Another thing, girl, it’s ok to be different.

Listen, you don’t have to be like everyone else. I know you want to wear those super cool jeans and rodeo shirts like Fallon Taylor… but you’re too scared to because no one else is doing it (yet).

I know the thought of not wearing a helmet makes you feel unsafe, but it seems like no one else is wearing them because they aren’t “cool.”

western rider wearing helmet

Spoiler alert: helmets ARE cool!

You don’t have to fit in — be yourself. Everyone is different. Everyone has different tastes, skills and ways of thinking. Be your own person.

Wear your helmet, and rock those crazy clothes girl!

You never know how you may inspire someone else just by being you.

When you’re older and have your second horse, you’ll start trying new things. You’ll trade showing for rodeo and start to compete more often.

running barrel pattern

Living your dream…

You’ll get more confident, too. That’s good! Just be careful that you don’t become too confident.

Believe in yourself, but stay humble.

There will always be someone worse than you, and there will also be someone better than you.

So don’t get cocky.

mckenzie mae and fallon taylor

Just wait until you get to meet Fallon Taylor!

Now that you are competing and getting more serious about things, you’ll learn more about failure. It hurts doesn’t it? Failing, it sucks.

But do you know why all of a sudden not getting first place is so devastating? Because you are getting a little too serious about things, girl.

You are taking the fun out of riding.

This is when you need to remember the joy you felt getting your first horse. You didn’t compete back then — you were simply happy to have a horse.

In fact, think back before getting your first horse to the 13 years of your life without one. You were just happy to do things like groom, clean stalls, and simply being around a horse.

It did not matter what you were doing, as long as you were with horses, you had a smile on your face that couldn’t be wiped off.

When you start worrying about winning or losing, think back to the days where it didn’t matter. Be grateful for how much you are able to do — far more than what little 10-year-old you thought she would ever be doing.

barrel race

It’s about the horse, not the prize.

“Little you” just wanted to have a horse — she didn’t even think about competing.

Now, here you are competing and on your path towards a pro rodeo career!

You are going so far beyond little McKenzie’s dreams.

As you accomplish more and more in your career, don’t forget these things. You are always growing, educate yourself, and learn as much as possible.

Dream big, girl. You can do anything you set your mind to as long as you stay humble.

Be yourself, don’t let small minded people tell you what you can and can’t do. Just be you!

Lastly, no matter what you do, have fun and enjoy the ride.

You got this,

McKenzie Mae

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About the author


McKenzie Mae Brown

McKenzie Mae loves running barrels with her Quarter Horses Royal and Bugs and spreading positivity, helmet awareness, and "Flomie" spirit in Washington State.