Every equestrian has a special story that led them into the horse world. That time when we realize that we love horses. That time when we find that we absolutely love the equestrian sport(s) that we participate in. All of the stories that we have are very cherished and something that we keep very close to us. I have one of those stories and I would very much like to share it with other equestrians. I have a very interesting story, along with some sad parts.

As I was watching Justify win the Triple Crown this year, I have thought of my horse Related Origin. I only watch the main stakes races because I have learned a lot about the sport and how it is not all sunshine and roses. Even though I really do not watch the racing as much, I felt a ton of emotion as he crossed the finish line and felt so happy for his connections. Racing might not be the best sport, but I am very appreciative of the sport (no matter how ugly it can be). Racing is how God led me to find horses, my true passion and possibly my future career with horses.

I fell in love with horses later than I would have liked, but I never thought of them much before I watched the movie Secretariat. I am fifteen years old and I have only been riding about three years. I watched Secretariat right before my sixth grade year (now will be a sophomore in the fall) and I ended up becoming obsessed, watching it nine times.

The next year (2015), every other week during the summer, I went to a woman who was a friend of my dad and learned how to groom/walk around barrels. She was very private, so I was never allowed to do anything more than walk. It was western riding. Fast forward to December 2015 and my aunt, who has a few horses, let me come to where she used to board her horse. I went there two times and she also had my my grandma, who I now live with, and my mom contact my now trainer (whom I have been with since February 6th of 2016 to be exact). My aunt took me to a tack store before my first lesson. After my first lesson, I immediately went home to order some breeches (my aunt had me try on every pair at the tack store we went to) for what I would be doing once one week and twice every other week. My Nana also told my trainer that I would be there to work.

On that first lesson, I rode an OTTB named Dexter, who I rode until the fall of 2016. I developed a very close bond with that horse and was so sad when I found out that he was finally sold (I was in New York at the time in Niagara Falls and my cat had just died).

I had worked some mornings during that summer and I was even allowed to eventually ride him without having an actual lesson. He was the horse that I had my first fall on, too. I also rode some other horses and I would help with the chores, as well.

During June 2016, my aunt, my cousin, Nana and I went for a vacation in Kentucky. We went there to see American Pharoah because I was still into racing and he was the horse that ended the Triple Crown drought. He was also very special to me – so special that I got to stay and have a personal tour of American Pharoah, after the group tour at Coolmore America, because I cried during the whole tour. It was one of my best vacations that I have been on.

Accordingly, I began to ride a lot more as time went on and I joined a local IEA team at another barn. I did the IEA for two years and now that barn is closing, so I have been able to show at my barn that I am at. The IEA did give me experience showing, even though I never won red or blue during any competitions and it is a nice program.

Currently, I get to have much more barn time than a few years ago. During school, I would go to the barn anytime I did not have school or when we were not doing anything at school. Now that it is summer I am at the barn all day, for morning and evening chores, from 6:30am-5:30pm or so, five days a week. I do not mind volunteering at my barn because I love these horses so much. Also, I have also been allowed to show one of the horses I am on.

I truly am so blessed to be able to work with these wonderful creatures and my future with them should be very interesting, since I plan to do something with horses for a career. I might not have a ton of money, but my grandparents try/do support me through my crazy jumping passion. My Nana even took me to the Longines Masters of New York this year.

This all brings me back to how I fell in love with horses. Some exceptionally talented horses that won the Triple Crown in 1973, American Pharoah and Justify, have a special place in my heart. I now have a very deep and loving passion for show jumping and plan to do it a lot in my future. It is not an easy sport and there are tons of struggles, but it is very rewarding (even though I do not own my own horse) and I am so glad that I have finally shared my testimony.