Jan. 12, 2016
If you’re like me, and I know that many of you are, riding has been a part of your life since childhood. You grew up exchanging barn work for lessons and leased a string of sale and show horses when your budget – and work life – allowed. You were serious enough about horses that you considered making a career out of it. But at the college years’ inevitable crossroads, while teaching another cold day of wintertime lessons at the barn after classes, you realized you wanted to be on the other side… you wanted to be a rider who could afford to own your own horse. You have a good head on your shoulders, so you knew you could find a way to make a good paycheck and afford the sport at some level. Enter the corporate job on Madison Avenue and four years of eye-opening experience of the working life outside of the barn. City life, relationships, promotions, partying, 9/11, and an ever-strengthening urge to flee the city and get back to the barn followed.
And here you are a decade later, a pretty proficient adult amateur. You leased for a while but then finally realized your dream of buying your own horse a few years ago. After having ridden with wonderful trainers as an adult, you understand the technical side of riding in a way you never did when you were a junior. You get to ride at a few horse shows a year but your job and travel can make it hard to ever really get a groove on in the show ring. You accept you’ll never be one of those riders who rides at most or all of the shows on your trainer’s schedule. Even with a great salary, your budget won’t allow more than a few local shows and one or two ‘A’ shows a year. And let’s face it, your horse’s injury and rehab cycle of the past couple of years means you haven’t showed at all for a while… which has been ok since life happened to get unbelievably crazy and showing would’ve been really tough to fit in. So you’ve been riding and taking lessons but not as consistently. Until a couple of months ago.
It was October. You got laid off after a company buy-out and you realized that in a couple months, you’d have a nice little heap of severance and 7 weeks off before your new job starts. Your horse will be rehabbing all winter from yet another injury but a really, really nice horse at the barn comes up for lease. Thermal is 3 months away. You’ve never shown at a winter circuit show. Ever. You’ve been to Wellington to watch and ooh and ahh and had a blast. But you’re a realist… you had tucked that dream away years ago.
But life is funny and circumstances present themselves in unexpected ways. You pull that fantasy up from the depths of that place you keep the inconceivable, untouchable daydreams. You try the horse available for lease and love him. You tally up the ballpark expenses and sleep on it a few nights, realizing that leasing the horse for six months and not going to Thermal makes little sense. It’s all or nothing.
You choose all. It’s go time.
Karen Terry is co-author/contributor of Unrelenting: The Real Story: Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of Excellence – the highly anticipated book on the legendary George Morris. She is also an adult amateur, who is leasing a horse to ride in her very first winter circuit, HITS Thermal.