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One of my earliest memories is attending the Washington County Fair in Wisconsin with my grandparents. I vividly remember walking the barn aisles with them, standing on my tip-toes to look into each stall to get a glimpse of the horses inside. In one of the stalls, there was a palomino with a sign on the stall door that said, “For Sale $2,000.” At that age, I had no concept of money and thought that sounded reasonable. I begged my grandparents to buy me the horse and I was devastated when we had to leave without it.
Though I was unable to have a horse at the time, my parents did everything they could to help satisfy my love of horses, such as sending me to horse camp with my best friend and making sure a trail ride was included in the itinerary for every family vacation. My obsession with horses started to dwindle when my best friend started taking riding lessons and I started playing other sports in grade school. Even though my love of horses started to take a back seat to other hobbies of mine, even into adulthood, I always told my friends and family that “I will have a horse someday”. They often chuckled, not because they didn’t believe me, but because they remembered that little girl at the county fair.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, I felt incredibly lonely and unfulfilled in life. I am a person who thrives by being active and outdoors, surrounded by the people I care about. Businesses started opening back up a bit and I happened to see someone post on my neighborhood’s Facebook page asking about riding lessons. It dawned on me that I was finally at a point in my life (nearly 20 years later) where I could make it happen, so I also posted in the group asking about Hunter/Jumper barns in the area, since I always knew that was the discipline I was interested in. I set up my first lesson and was hooked from the very start.
Three months later, I started leasing a horse, and just under a year into riding I decided it was time to start searching for a horse to call my own. My trainer and I took a trip to Minnesota to see a few different horses. We had one horse in mind that we thought would be “the one”, two others that we thought could work, and one that I was not all that interested in. Can you guess which one I ended up liking best and ultimately deciding to call my own? I have never once regretted my decision.
Nearly two years into riding and a year into horse ownership, I am the happiest I have ever been. My horse is my absolute heart and soul, and the love I have for him is indescribable. The same can be said about my trainer and my barn family. To be honest, I jumped into horse ownership a lot sooner than most do after starting to ride and probably a lot sooner than I was prepared for. I needed a lot of help, and they gave it (and continue to give it) happily and freely, without judgement. The friendships I have formed over the past two years are incredibly strong, because we all share that indescribable love for our horses. I am so happy to have not only found my heart horse, but to have found my herd as well.
I would like to acknowledge that I recognize it is an immense privilege to be able to ride and have a horse of my own. I wanted to write about this because I truly believe it is never too late to follow your dreams. There is no set timeline when it comes to riding, or life in general. Everyone has a different path. Do not let the fear of “being behind” hold you back. I promise you will not regret it.
You can follow my journey on Instagram: @ajr_equine