The Black Mare and I have embarked on our newest adventure…we have officially relocated for the next leg of my educational experience at Purdue University for veterinary school.  I am blessed to have her along for the ride at a barn just 20 minutes away.  However, I find myself in this weird limbo, as it is the first time I am really without a coach or trainer.

I have only ever been at 2 barns; the 1 I started at, and then the equine center
during my time at Otterbein.  I never bounced between barns or trainers, and because of it, I have developed really wonderful relationships with the trainers at those barn.

In May of this past year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with both of my collegiate coaches and the other 2 IHSA Nationals qualifiers for the entirety of IHSA Nationals.  This was, in part, due to the fact that IHSA Nationals was at the Kentucky Horse Park this year (and will also be there in 2017!), meaning it was only about 3 and a half hours from Otterbein.  While I was there, I had a genuinely great time with my coaches, who I can now also call my friends.  During this time, I found myself calling my trainer at home as well to inform her of my adventures at Nationals.  I am incredibly lucky to have not bounced around from barn to barn.  I have my barn at home, and my barn at Otterbein, that’s it.  I have maintained a really close relationship with my trainer at home, and check in with her pretty regularly.  She has influenced me greatly as an educated equestrian and horsewoman, and I know my success in the saddle and in the classroom stems from the experiences she instilled in me, the opportunities she gave me and the knowledge she imparted to me.

And as I stood in the middle of the Alltech Arena, my name being announced in the top 10 for a knowledge-based practicum, I knew that I was standing there because of several exceptional coaches.

I had a similar experience when last month, during The Black Mare and my’s very last show of the summer (read about it here), and my trainer from home was able to come and see us show together, and meet my trainer from Otterbein…In one instance, I had 2 of the most influential people in my riding career in the same spot, and it was so surreal (in the best possible way). So, here’s to the coaches.

Here’s to the coaches who take in the horse-crazy kids, giving them pony rides, gra
duating them to their first horses, teaching them about brushes and horse safety, how to walk trot and canter

Here’s to the coaches who recognize the kids who aren’t just ‘going through a phase’, and take them under their wing, letting them spend as much time in the barn as they possibly can, breathing in all things horsey, and spending summer days gypsy-ing around the barn, looking for positively anything to do with a horse.

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Best Coach Award goes to…Riding as a crash-test dummy for the Halloween costume class at an IHSA

Here’s to the coaches who teach their students that it’s not just about riding; who instill principles of horse care and management into their lessons.  Who produce students who can muck a stall, clean tack, braid, wrap, trailer, and are knowledgeable horsepeople, as well as accomplished riders.

Here’s to the coaches who put their students on every and anything, who teach versatility.

Here’s to the coaches who push their students to become riders and not passengers.  Who constantly demand the best, and continually raise the bar.  Who help their students set goals, and proceed to help them smash those goals and set new ones.

Here’s to the coaches who know how to find new ways to teach and pass along information, who are continually reinventing themselves to help reinvent their students.

Here’s to the coaches who see potential and refuse to let it go to waste.

Here’s to the coaches who make this sport fun, make their students laugh, and remind their students that we started in this sport because we loved it, not because we loved blue ribbons.

Here’s to the coaches who sacrifice everything for their students.  Who give up weekends for horse shows, and who give up their time to teach endless lessons.

Here’s to the coaches who go the extra mile to make sure their students have opportunities that may not otherwise been afforded to them.

Here’s to the coaches who become friends.
Luckily for me, I’ve had coaches who have done all of the above for me, and so much more.

As The Black Mare and I operate (for the time being) coach-less, I will carry the lessons I have learned from my trainers with me.  And I know wherever our adventures take us, I have a network of the best, most supportive coaches (and friends) that I will be keeping in touch with for a lifetime.

Here’s to the coaches.

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