Pushing Past a Rough Patch with Help From an Unexpected Horse

BY TAYLOR DERRICO 

I felt stuck. Like I was slowly sinking, and struggled to break free. My spunky thoroughbred spooked on me once again, causing me to question my ability to ride. I hadn’t been jumping as much as I wanted to, and was in a rough spot in my equestrian career. I was ready to give up. 

If I was not able to improve on my riding skills this winter, what was the point of even riding horses anymore? It was a tough decision that I did not take lightly. I had been riding since I was seven years old. This was my sport. Should I continue or stop altogether? 

Winter is the season where equestrians like myself work hard to prepare for the show season starting in the spring.  I felt like I was not improving. I was having trouble jumping my own horse at my home barn around a simple course, because of the fear that he might spook at something. It seemed that I was moving backwards during my lessons.

But I was lucky enough to be able to ride at a second barn where I would at least be more confident jumping around a course. I convinced myself all was well. Even if I didn’t jump every week there, I knew it was good to ride different horses and focus on the flat which is just as important as jumping. 

Photo courtesy of Taylor Derrico

Still, I had an itch that I just could not scratch. I wanted to jump around on my own horse to prove to myself that I was a good rider—one who wasn’t going backwards. Bit by the jumping bug, I had no way to satisfy the feeling. Until I learned something great was waiting at the end of those difficult months. 

A thoroughbred was coming up for lease at the other barn where I rode. The owner got a new horse to move up during the competition season, and was willing to lease the overly sweet thoroughbred to someone who would love him and give him lots of attention. There was a lot to consider before taking my trainer up on this offer. I had to consider how my schedule could work with leasing a new horse when I already had the pleasure of owning my horse. After a long deliberation, my mom and I thought this was the best solution for me to help accomplish goals of eventually returning to shows.

Photo courtesy of Taylor Derrico

As of January, I started my lease of this sweet horse. I am now a rider of two thoroughbreds—seems like I cannot get away from the breed! It has been a blessing that my mom and my trainer made this opportunity work for me now that I am home for a while due to the pandemic happening in the world right now. I finally have a horse that I can jump around with during my lessons and bring to competitions in the future. 

It seemed a little overwhelming to me at first, figuring out how to ride both my spunky thoroughbred and another horse. It all happened so fast, and it seemed like I could not keep it up with it. Now, I must build a relationship with a horse that I do not know very well. But I know it will all be worth it in the end to achieve my goals. 

Photo courtesy of Taylor Derrico

It has been so much fun for me to ride two horses that are the same breed, but they are completely different. I am riding more and I love that I can share my love with two horses that deserve tons of attention. I want to thank my trainer, my mom, and the owners of my sweet leased thoroughbred for giving me the opportunity to grow as a rider within the sport that I could not picture my life without. 


Taylor has been riding horses all her life and is an owner of a spunky thoroughbred named Dugan. She founded and rode on the Florida Southern College’s IHSA team and recently graduated with a degree in marine biology. She is working towards a career researching dolphins. Taylor enjoys showing around NY and hopes to continue competing in the future.