To the horse world, I want to say thank you. Horses have always been my happy place. It has been a place of solace, even from the young age of four. I did not begin riding until I was eight, but I had begun my relationship with horses much sooner. My father rode horses as a child in Alabama and wanted to make sure I was exposed to them as well. Little did he know that those pony rides would turn into spending every evening at the barn, traveling to shows, or waking up at three in the morning to go to a horse show.
My parents nurtured my love of horses, and always encouraged me to follow my dreams within the horse world. This taught me so much about myself, and the world around me. If you ask any equestrian, they will tell you that horseback riding is not easy. It takes hard work and dedication to become the best you can be for yourself and the horses you ride. Horse taught me to have respect, respect for myself, and respect for others. Horseback riding is a team sport and the hardest team sport at that. You and your partner begin to learn a new way of communication together that becomes beautiful.
There were many times I wanted to give up, not due to my lack of love for horses and the sport, but because sometimes I felt I was not getting anywhere in my riding progress. I was blessed to have parents, trainers, and friends who always encouraged me to keep at it. They knew how much I loved the sport, and how much it meant to me. There was one point in my riding career that I did have to change trainers to better fit my learning style. It was at this point I realized that I almost gave up on something I love because my training style did not fit someone else. This taught me that everyone is unique, and this is no different in the horse world. You should believe in yourself, trust your gut, and do what you think is right no matter what others think.
The time that was most transformative in my horse journey is when I had a serious hip injury due to overuse of my muscles. I had to take a two-year break from horseback riding, and most of the other sports I was playing at a time. I was at my ultimate lowest in terms of self-esteem. I may even say I was in a form of depression. When I first got hurt, I did not want to go near a barn, let alone a horse. I felt that if I couldn’t ride, why should I spend any time at the barn. After some time, I realized that I was missing the connection I shared with my horses, and I began to spend more time at the barn, speaking with the horses, growing my connection further than just riding. I learned that riding is so much more than the time you spend in a saddle, and it took that time away for me to grow up and realize that.
When I was finally able to return to the riding world, it was another struggle. I had to start over from the beginning. Some things were muscle memory, but they hadn’t been used in two years. I was jumping cross rails instead of 3’9 oxers. However, I could never have been more grateful for this time. It allowed me to relearn everything in a new light, with an appreciation that I could not have as a child. It helped me realize that I wanted to help make the horse world the best that it could be. I saw all that horses had been able to teach me and wanted others to be able to experience these joys as well and find a community that was safe for all. This is why I started EqVersify. As I look back, I want to say thank you to all who helped me along my journey, it is far from over, but I have learned so much already and am excited for what the future will bring.