To celebrate the new look of Horse Junkies United, our team of bloggers take a trip down memory lane and compare their lives today to their lives four years ago, when Horse Junkies United first began.
A lot has changed in my equestrian life since 2011, when Horse Junkies United first launched, uniting riders everywhere. But one of the things that has stayed the same in my life is that I am still a fan Horse Junkies United!
In 2011, I was not a very serious rider. It was an after-school pastime, and that was it. I took one or two group lessons a week at a modest riding school in Toronto, and although I certainly enjoyed spending time with horses, I never imagined myself as a serious competitor like I am now. At that time, my goals for riding were to try not to fall off (no joke) and to have a good time.
I don’t come from a riding family. The reason I got into it was because of a childhood friend/neighbour who wanted to take lessons together. We live a very urban life. The big city has been my home since I was a baby, and so riding didn’t really fit in to the kind of life that we lead. Horses do not interest my parents, and though they have been extremely supportive and involved in my riding career over the years, riding isn’t really their thing.
When I was about 13 though, I made some friends who owned their own horses and competed them on the A-Circuit. I think that becoming friends with these girls, getting to know them and seeing how much fun they had competing, made me realize that my love for equestrian sports spanned far beyond a couple lessons a week. I was lucky enough to lease a pony at the same barn near my house, with plans to compete him in local hunter/jumper and eventing competitions. However, this pony was extremely naughty (surprise surprise) and it was clear that the only way I could show him was in dressage shows. Begrudgingly, I rode training level at some little shows, expecting to hate dressage because at the time, it was, well, really boring.
But I learned through riding the pony that I actually loved dressage, and that it was my absolute favourite of all the disciplines (not to mention the fact that jumping scared the heck out of me!). So my parents and coach helped me to find a trainer and a new horse who could help me develop my dressage skills and have a future competing.
When I was 14, I began my career as a dressage rider.
I bought my FEI Junior Horse, Iliado, and began competing at gold shows the following year. My riding goals then shifted once again to working up to the FEI levels. At 16, I rode in my first CDI competition, and was named to the Ontario NAJYRC Team, where we won 2 medals.
I am now 17 years old and have been so lucky to have had three great seasons as a dressage rider. I finished up my junior career on Iliado this summer with a gold medal at NAJYRC, and have started a new chapter as an FEI Young Rider on my new horse, Rigo.
Four years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a competitive equestrian. Although the majority of my riding goals have changed, one of my main goals has always stayed the same: to ride because of my love for horses, and nothing else.