I was never the girl who dreamt of riding or asked for a pony for Christmas. Sure, I thought sitting on the back of a horse and communicating with a creature who doesn’t speak was incredibly awesome, I just didn’t know anything about riding other than what I had seen on television.
I went to a riding camp when I was nine and loved every second of it. So, I started taking lessons and half-leasing a school horse. My parents swore that four rides a week was all I would get until I was old enough to pay for everything myself. Here I am, four years later, at a show barn with my two horses having the time of my life.
I’ve struggled quite a bit with criticism. When showing horses, one is expected to have thick skin. Trainers get tough. It’s their job. Students work as hard as they can. It’s their job. I however, have struggled with this concept. If I do something wrong and get scolded for it, I take it personally. My horse is wild? Then I’m a terrible rider. I beat myself up for days telling myself I’m not good enough and never will be.
However, after I finish throwing myself a little pity party, I work as hard as I can to improve upon myself. Of course, I have days – sometimes even weeks – where I don’t want to work. I don’t have enough energy to fight for it and just want to go out and have a fun ride in the field with my friends. But everyone has those days.
Sometimes riding gets harder than usual. Barn drama picks up and the work gets harder. I get to a point where I don’t know if I can pursue my dreams. I stress and sometimes wonder if I still love this sport as much as I used to. I lose sight of what riding is truly about. In the end, I always choose to continue. Not for the blue ribbons; not for the perfect lesson; and not because I don’t want to let anyone down. I do this for me. I do this for my wonderful horses who I could not be more thankful for. I do this for the friendships fostered in the barn. I do this for all the hours spent at the barn waiting for the vet to come. I do this because I love every single moment spent at the barn. I love working and having my muscles be sore for days. I love going to shows and having all my hard work pay off. This sport is hard and it definitely isn’t always fun, but it’s so worth it.
All the sad, frustrated, and angry moments pay off. All the days I go home sore are worth it. Whether I have good days at the barn or not, it will always be worth it. In the long run, every single moment at the barn is cherished. I didn’t choose this wild and crazy horse-infested life – it chose me.
About Mikala Perry: Mikala is a 14-yr-old 9th grader from Frederick, MD. She rides with Justine Powers at Highgarden Farm in the hunters and equitation with her two horses, Ladylike and Flip 4 It.