This article was originally published on Equestrian Marketing Agency Athletux's website.
Wear more sunscreen, drink more water, start practicing yoga, count to ten before answering . . . The advice I wish I had listened to when I was your age.
Get ready for a bumpy ride girl . . . you will have so many opportunities and adventures, but also heartbreak and tears. You will learn from them all – maybe not at first, but you will be stronger for it.
School will continue to be hard for you – you will struggle taking tests your entire life – sorry, but it’s true. Eventually, you will be diagnosed with a learning disability which will relieve you and justify the fact that you “just don’t work hard enough” isn’t who you are. You just learn a bit differently.
Your high school experience will be ever important – the foundation of your core soul will be created there – not only because of the age that you are during that time but because of the people there who will never give up on you. You will find yourself . . . it will be a bit blurry at the time, but that is life. It always makes more sense after the fact. The friends you make in high school will remain your friends 30 years later. This is something incredibly rare, so be sure to cherish all of your moments with them.
Sports will help keep you focused . . . you will play Ice Hockey at Northeastern – four years of travel on buses, late practices, and fabulous women. They will be stronger mentally and physically than you and you will try very hard to keep up with them. You will be plagued with injuries and you will battle back – you will have scars to prove it. You will watch your teammates go on to play, coach, and become doctors for Olympic Teams . . . Women’s Ice Hockey in the Olympics – yup, it happens!
Through all this, horses will keep your interest. You will spend summers wanting to be at the barn ALL THE TIME – but let me tell you – that will change, LOL. Your friend and coach, Bobby Costello, will go to the Olympics . . . and guess what, so will you - but as a groom, not a rider. Your summer crew will continue to live in Hamilton and they will get married and have kids. They will be jealous of the fact that you get to live every little girl’s dream of going to the Olympics . . . even though you are there grooming – for one of the best riders in the world – more on that later . . .
Marriage and kids won’t seem to suit you – and that’s okay, don’t let anyone tell you differently. You will have your share of boyfriends, and your heart will be broken and you will break some hearts too . . . It all ends up pretty great.
You will work in Boston for five years – you won’t ride for three of those years . . . but you will enjoy the challenge of this job and meet some really great people. One day, you will be ready for a change . . . and you won’t eat, and you won’t sleep, and you won’t know why. It will be February in Boston and the daylight will be slim – and just like that you will quit your job and go back to horses.
In the summer of 2001, you will get to travel with Jim Stamets and his quirky mare Bally-Mar. You will learn a lot from Jim about being a good horseman – and the mare will have a great year. You and Jim will laugh until you can’t breathe, drink Heineken, and enjoy the journey of the summer. In the blink of an eye, he will be gone. His failing heart will finally give up and you will be left with no job, no friend, and no thought of what to do next. This will start your biggest adventure yet.
Because you took care of that mare like she was your own (Bally-Mar) – John and Dianne Pingree will believe in you and ask you a HUGE favor. You will drive your ailing Ford Escort station wagon to Middleburg, Virginia following the trailer with Bally-Mar in it after packing most of your apartment and belongings and putting them in storage for what is supposed to be six months. Those six months will turn into 11 years . . . here’s why –
You are going to look after Bally-Mar for Karen O’Connor (you know her as Karen Lende). You will struggle when you arrive from intimidation as you try to break into the cult. Just keep your head down and keep working. Do what the bosses tell you. Ask questions, be honest, and don’t stop learning from every horse. You will meet a lifelong friend who will be your only friend for a while there. Slowly you will be let into the group and all will be good. These people will still be your best friends 20 years later – advice on horses and life will forever be a phone call away as a result.
Make sure your passport is always up to date because you will travel the world and get to go places and meet people you have only seen in magazines. Attention to detail will become paramount and years will appear to fly by. Hours on the road, set up and take down, braids, trot ups, finding the balance – always striving to be better so your rider will be more successful. You will know your vet and farriers’ number by heart, and they will become like family. You will all stick together in triumph and tragedy . . . and you will have your fair share of both.
Your family of fellow grooms – they are irreplaceable. You will call each other when you have good news or bad news – you will travel and live in bizarre places. These will become adventures for a lifetime. You will learn to cherish every sleepless, hungry hour.
Through all this, your family will remain right behind you . . . they will joke about not hearing from you and looking at Facebook to know what state or country you are in. They love you and are proud of you and you will know that they are what makes your heart continue to beat. They are the energy in your soul.
After eleven years, you will leave everything you know once again. You will be very sad and confused, and it will feel like all your work was unacknowledged. It will hurt and you will be angry – but this too will pass and you will learn from it.
It will be time to recreate you – it is scary and lonely and humbling and tough on the bank account.
The man that you fall in love with will have supported your journey for several years, and it will be your turn to support his. His new business will flourish and even though you will both travel in different directions; you will always be there for each other. People may not always understand him as he is fantastically unique – his heart is so good.
The good people in your life will give you opportunities. The not so good people will let you down. This is how the world works. It’s up to you to figure out who those people are . . . sorry – can’t make it too easy for you! You will find your balance.
Suddenly, with no warning at all, you will be standing in front of 400 people in Boston making a speech, sweating in nerves. Everyone will be staring at you. You are supposed to be saying something smart and thought-provoking . . . and of course, your family will be there.
You will be on this stage, with all eyes on you because you are now the president of what you know as the USCTA – it becomes the USEA a few years ago now. Somehow, you will make your way up in the governance world, which you may never understand because I still don’t. I guess your New England honesty is a curse and a blessing. You will have great people around you – lean on them – it’s OK. The conference calls will get easier . . . and one day you will get one completely right!
Keep stretching – mentally and physically.
Wear a hat – cold or hot weather – they will serve you well in different capacities.
You will go grey early.
Coffee is your friend.
Be kind even when it’s hard.
Take a deep breath – it’s an amazing ride.
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With the recent wrap-up of the 2023 Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) Symposium in Ocala, Florida, USEA Podcast Host Nicole Brown chats with ECP Faculty Members Jennifer Howlett Rousseau and Robin Walker about all things related to the ECP. From the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels to the benefits of pursuing certification, selecting the best coach for you, recapping this year's Symposium, and more - this week's USEA podcast is the perfect educational tool for coaches and riders alike!
Time is precious. Time with your horse even more so. If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to spend more time in the saddle or more time enjoying the barn, you’ll want to implement these best practices to minimize stress and make the most of 2023.
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