by Jessica Buterbaugh
About 3 years ago I was a “normal” person with a full time job that my parents put me through college for, and had a horse that I boarded at the barn where I had grown up riding. I would work long hours, sometimes 12 hour days, and still manage to get to the barn 5-6 days a week to ride and care for my eventer. I knew horses would be my life, which is why I went to school to be a Veterinary Technician. But little did I know that job would only last me 2 years before I decided to follow my dreams and drop everything to move away and train with professionals. When I went to Rolex in my younger years, I never dreamed I would become friends with some of the competitors in the future!
My journey started when Leslie Law came to Hunters Run Farm in Michigan one June weekend. Living on the other side of the border, where eventing is scarce, I got my horse health papers and took the trip over for the clinic. Day 1 was stadium, where I had a lot of “you want me to do what?” moments. We successfully completed that day! The next day was cross country and had a blast! My horse was bad with ditches so Leslie got on and preformed his magic and before we knew it we were going through the coffin. It was the most fun I had and couldn’t wait to do it again. As we were packing up to leave the owner of the farm casually said “Wouldn’t it be great just to go down to Virginia for 2 weeks and take lessons with Leslie?” I had never dreamed that attainable in a million years. But a month later I packed up and had planned on 2 weeks, as my job allowed, but ended up staying the whole summer. I am so grateful to this day that she had put the idea in my head.
One summer lead to 3 months in Ocala, AKA 6 months. By this time I told my steady, secure job at home I was not coming back. After my first winter I came back to Canada but moved to the Port Perry area to work for an eventer in the area who also trained with Diana Burnett. From that summer/fall season in Canada I moved back down to Ocala with Diana, and also got help again from the Laws as well. Both winters in Ocala Ronald Zabala-Goetschel also gave me the opportunity to groom for him at his barn. Again, never thought working this close with Olympians would EVER be in the cards for me!
Fast forward to today. My childhood barn owner was in need of retirement and approached me for the second time to take over the riding school in our little town. I agreed, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I turned my hobby into my career and can’t wait for what the future holds. All because of 1 sentence and a great experience at a clinic 3 years ago.
Long story short, dream big and go for those dreams no matter what! Anything is possible if you’re willing to work for it! Take the risk and it will pay off!