Four years ago. Let’s see. Until four years ago, I had only been on a pony ride or two before I was 10 years old. No. I’m not kidding. It wasn’t until July 2011 that I had my first riding lesson… I remember it well. My instructor said “walk on” and I said “how?” and then every part of the earth below me moved and I felt like I was on an Imperial Sky Walker. I will never forget that feeling. I didn’t know, then, that it was the beginning that would change me, forever.

Fast forward four years, and I’ve lost count of how many rides I’ve taken. I’ve found my forever horse, Carter. I’ve switched disciplines – from Western to Classical Dressage (if my first instructors would categorize me as a Western rider, I don’t know. haha). I’ve been lucky enough to earn a Riders’ Performance Award and compete at the USDF Regional finals. I’ve won a few blue ribbons, red ribbons, yellow, white, pink, and even some green. I’ve fallen off. No, it’s not fun and yes, it hurts. I’ve gotten back on. I’m lucky enough to have made Wellington an annual sabbatical. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible and now, understand (almost) everything I hear and see when I audit a clinic.

I’ve gained confidence, in myself and in trusting something so much larger than myself. I now understand the love of a horse and how he will always keep my secrets. I have learned the love of our time, when he breathes me in and I return the favor. I have learned the sanctity of the barn, and how barn drama exists. I’ve learned the importance of letting go – how to leave work, life, and stress outside. I’ve made a ton of friends – salt of the earth type friends. Some I’ve only met online but I know would be there if ever I needed them. I’ve cried at the sadness of loss. I’ve cried tears of joy and dreams while watching some of the best riders dance with their horses.  I’ve smiled and belly laughed from places within that I thought were long gone. I’ve lived.

I’ve learned that I will be forever changed.

But most of all, I’ve learned that I have become an equestrian.