By Sissy Wickes
Last week, I spoke at the UN… Even now, with the clarity of hindsight, I find those words hard to comprehend. And, I was there.
Last week, on Friday, I spoke at the UN. On Thursday, a cold, rainy, spring –is- never- coming day, I stood in a damp indoor extolling the virtues of the counter canter to a junior hunter rider, a lovely young woman whom I have coached intermittently since she rode small ponies. In the decade that I have known Lauren, so much has happened. As she moved up the size chart in ponies, I moved kids into college and graduate school. When she proudly wore her first pair of tall boots to a lesson, I wore anguish over my father’s illness.
The roil of life, up and down, back and forth, calm to turbulence; she on her path and me on mine. Yet, with all of the dissimilarities of our very different lives, we meet in the ring. Within the track, in the center of the ring, we are in sync. Horses can do that.
Last week, I spoke at the UN on World Autism Awareness Day. I have a son, Sam, on the autism spectrum and, through him, have become very involved with the autism community. I am an advocate, the President of the Board of Trustees at his high school, and, most importantly, the mother of a kid with differences. Through the absolute commitment of my family and me to Sam’s success and happiness, we have met many glorious people dedicated to the same mission. As with the horse community, our differences melt away in the warmth of camaraderie and purpose.
I have been in the horse world for my entire life, except for the years I was getting the best education one could imagine. I have been the parent of a child on the autism spectrum for 24 years. The same commitment that has served me in the horse business led me to New York and the United Nations on a cold weekend in April. Hard work, singularity of purpose, teamwork, empathy, passion. These are the tenants of horsemanship; these are the tenants of life.
Last week, I taught riding lessons. Last week, I spoke at the UN.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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