Returning to riding as an adult has made me very appreciative of what I have in life. Like many fellow equestrians, most of my coworkers and peers assume that because I participate in a horsey-sport that I’m sitting on a pile of money, but that is so far from the truth.

I’ve only been back in the game for a little more than two months now, and I can‘t seem to get enough time in the saddle. While my love for riding has been reignited, and is perhaps even stronger than it was when I was young, now there are so many other obstacles in the way. Back when I was young my list of riding related problems included but were not limited to: outgrowing my riding apparel super quickly, worrying whether it would be mom or dad to drive me to the barn, and trying to figure out which was more important to attend – one of my cousin’s birthday parties or the upcoming schooling show.

These days my list of riding related problems looks more like this: I didn’t know that part of my leg could hurt let alone hurt for so many days in a row, why doesn’t money grow on trees, and dang I wish I opted for a less sporty car (the barn I ride at is located at the end of a very pothole covered dirty road). But let’s take a moment to focus on that middle one for a moment – “why doesn’t money grow on trees.”

As a girl, my dad picked up the tab for my equine endeavors. He wasn’t wealthy by most standards, but he was a gem in the respect that he never complained to me about the cost of my lessons. When I moved up from half an hour every other week, to forty-five minutes every week, to that plus a group lesson, and so on and so forth. But these days, I don’t have a knight in shining armor footing the bill!) – it’s all on me. Moreover, I’m not just responsible for my equine expenses but also for literally everything else – car, rent, student loans, and food – the list goes on and on.

And so it never seems like I can get enough time in the saddle, since I need to be responsible and only take what lessons I can afford (and afford comfortably, not afford in the sense of well if I eat 99-cent ramen for the next week I can squeeze in another).Outside of the money factor, there’s the time factor. I envy the people who seem to be able to take an entire season off to take their horses to Aiken or Wellington – since I know not everyone in attendance is a professional, I want to know what those amateur riders do for a living outside of horses and how I can get hooked up with a job with such flexible scheduling. Furthermore, although I’ve recently rekindled and strengthened my love of horses and riding, there are other major happenings in life – my full time job, finally graduating college after taking a nontraditional path, studying for the CPA, and trying to keep my apartment clean and see my boyfriend for more than five-minute increments.

Again, all of the hard work makes me appreciate my time in the saddle even more. I put in countless hours at work to pay for everything from my boots to my outfit to the gas in my car to the helmet protecting my head. My dedication to my sport has only made me a better employee since the more productive I am at work, the more likely I am to get a raise, which means more money to throw at horses. After countless failed New Year’s resolutions, I’m finally going to the gym because I owe it to the horses I ride to be in better shape. I’m finally proud of being that crazy horse girl, and I’m so proud of having the motivation to do it on my own.