I dream of one day riding at Rolex. I dream of one day being able to own a barn, and maybe even being a professional in this crazy sport. That being said, I also dream of having a thriving career in marketing and having a family. I know I can have it all, but at what cost?

I’ve heard countless times there’s more to life than horses. My response is always polite, but typically I’m laughing on the outside. There’s nothing in this world that brings me greater joy and peace than horses. However, as I get older, I begin to see some truth to those words.

All fall I had planned and worked to make going south for the winter a reality. Then I came across some difficult realizations and had to put my gypsy nature and winter dreams on hold to prioritize other things. This decision was easy, but justifying it to some horse people was difficult. It’s easy to get lost in your dreams and goals. They can take over and blind you to the world around you. I have always told my mother that I think that leaving the startbox at Rolex would be more important to me than a wedding. She always smiles and tells me when I’m 50 I’ll think differently. Some days I think she’s crazy, other times I can begin to see her logic.

My dreams still exist, and I am willing to walk the long, grueling road it takes to get there. There’s not a single professional or upper level rider that hasn’t made significant sacrifices to be at the level they’re at. You will never obtain something great without sacrifice or hard work. However, I have come to realize, there are some sacrifices I am not willing to make for horses. Slowly I am beginning to learn that’s ok and does not make me less of a horseman. I’m learning it’s ok to accept I may never ride at a certain level or it may take me triple the time to get to a level as someone else.

There is more to life than horses. That’s tough for me to admit. The idea of not being on a permanent four-star pursuit makes my stomach twist. But, more and more, I begin to become ok with the fact that I may one day never hit that level, and that one day I might not want to pursue that level. For now, I prepare for my first 1* on a horse I produced myself, with the help of many talented trainers and mentors along the way. For now, I get butterflies watching videos of Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson skip around upper level events. For now, there’s not more to life than horses, though I am beginning to see some things that could give the thrill of cross country a run for its money.