Last time I wrote I was anxiously sitting on the concrete aisle at the barn desperately waiting for my horse to relieve himself during a colic scare. I had make the 20-hour haul down to Aiken for a week of boot camp with my trainer and to compete at Sporting Days. In the blur of that week, I failed to write a follow-up to that experience. Though it took a few days, my horse, Donnie, managed to pull through and feel well enough to cross country school and compete.

 I had so many lines rolling through my head following that trip of what I wanted to write about, including the friendly strangers along the way that struck up conversations as gas stations or the kind gentleman who stuck his arm into my engine area to retrieve a blown-off coolant cap. Each experience had its own learning experience and made for fun stories.

Unfortunately, life happened. I was swamped with work upon my arrival home and never ended up writing that blog. With the distance that comes with time passing, I fail to effectively share these entertaining experiences that occurred during my trip south every time I try to write about it.

Back in the day, I was a working student. I lived in the magical town of Middleburg and horses were my entire life. Traveling more than two-hours to an event was rare and everything was at my fingertips. Now, I’m an adult amateur who works 60 hours a week and thinks an event that is four-hours away is a short trip. When the opportunity arose to travel to Plantation Fields Horse Trials, I was thrilled. It was only 13-hours away and would be my last run at training level before making the move back to preliminary.

Due to an untimely break-up, I had to bribe a friend to be my travel companion for this expedition. My childhood friend agreed to accompany me, completely unaware of what he was getting himself into. We left my house at a bright and cheery 2:45 a.m. and left the barn at 4:30 a.m. About four cups of coffee into the trip, it was finally light enough for my friend to be able to enjoy reading his book. After reading silently grew dull, my friend opted to read his favorite parts from his World War 2 book out loud to me. I smiled and nodded, appreciative of his presence during my long trip. I knew I would be grateful for him at the inevitable late night sketchy gas station stops during our trip home.

Donnie was a rock star that weekend. After tripping his way through his dressage test, we managed to score a personal best and to keep that score throughout the event, finishing in third in a competitive division.

Then began the trip home.

At this point, it is safe to say my friend and I were rapidly growing sick of one another. I am not always the most pleasant person to be around at events. Between that and the early mornings, his joyous nature was rapidly waning. About five-hours into the drive, it was clear that one of us might not make it home without murdering the other. No longer were the World War 2 facts endearing or the Game of Thrones trivia fun – every word was grating on my nerves with too much togetherness.

Then it hit me, he didn’t have to be here. He gave up his weekend to help out his friend so she wouldn’t get murdered at a gas station or fall asleep at the wheel. He was contributing to the situation in the best way he could and I was being a total jerk.

That realization was not enough to make the rest of the drive any less irritating, but it was enough for me to change my attitude and try to be polite and grateful to my friend who gave their weekend up for me. I may not have been on my best behavior, but I did my best to shape up, change my ‘tude, and quit being a jerk to someone who had been my biggest advocate, best friend, and huge help all weekend.

Often we get so wrapped up in our life, our feelings, our problems, and our thoughts that we forget that it’s not all about us. He was here as a favor to me and I was being unfair and not appreciative of his kindness.

While this may have not been the blog I planned to write, it’s one that is close to my heart. Here’s to the friends that read you World War 2 books to stay awake, here’s to the trainers who don’t get to hear a thank you after giving their time up to teach, and here’s to the infinite amount of support that is behind every rider chasing their dreams.

I may not always be the best at saying thank you, but after that weekend I’ve taken it upon myself to be better.

Thank you.

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