Every individual has strengths and weaknesses, although, somewhere along the way I received a ‘gift’. It is a voice inside that gives me strength when others attempt to dissuade me from doing what I love.
For the past three years, I’ve been ringside with my sister, McKenzie, coaching her at home and during show jumping competitions.
So, how did we get here?
It comes after my sister was ready to give up on life as an equestrian after 15-years competing in show jumping. Granted, I hated the fact that McKenzie would walk away from horses because of a sharp-tongued, unprofessional horse trainer.
After many discussions, McKenzie told me that she would continue to ride if we worked on the horses together. We’re not horse professionals, but we’re comfortable enough with our knowledge and past experiences, not to need a full-time trainer.
As a result, I lend my wisdom, humility, and positivity to my sister’s talents so that we can continue growing.
At 22, I don’t have all of the answers in life… or this sport. Additionally, I recognize that in order to achieve some future goals, McKenzie will need a more advanced pair of eyes on the ground.
One thing I value is my independence, even without the buy-in of others.
This isn’t to say that harsh comments don’t sting. My first reaction is to get defensive, however, the idea of “live and let live” helps.
Undoubtedly, the negativity and chatter come from people who are scared of change or don’t know our story (more to come on that in a future post). Although, when “so-called friends” and colleagues start dishing nasty remarks, it’s essential that I don’t let these affect our journey.
Since its relatively uncommon for amateurs to compete without professional guidance, we expected some would critique or even criticize us.
In 2016, the first year of our solo endeavor, a woman our family has known for years approached my mother while we warmed-up prior to a jumper class. She and her husband run a Georgia equestrian facility. The woman pulled my mother aside and commented, “My husband and I were discussing what a shame it is that your girls don’t have a trainer. What a waste of talent… and that’s a nice horse too.”
My mom told her that we were happy and that it’s more than just ribbons. Additionally, nothing was being “wasted,” talent or otherwise, by not utilizing a horse trainer. Hearing my mother recite their conversation confirmed this was the right path.
Everyone gets to choose whether to question themselves based on others’ opinions. In the equine industry, our independence is unusual, which probably makes people uncomfortable.
Even more, our focus is on our horses and growing as equestrians. The rest is just noise.
Next time, discover my must-have guide to self-care as an independent equestrian competitor.