I want to start by thanking you for everything you taught me. With you, I learned more than just how to ride. I learned horsemanship. I learned networking. I learned business skills from within the equestrian world. I watched you, a successful equestrian entrepreneur, juggle clients, horses and grooms. Your farm was a well oiled machine that spit dollars and ribbons. I was in awe.
When I first started riding with you I felt like I had hit the jackpot. I felt like I had an encyclopedia of equi-knowledge right at my fingertips. I had someone in my corner with the ability to give me everything I needed to build my career. My dream was to have a successful sales barn and you could sell ice to an eskimo.
What I didn’t realize was that you had the ability to bring me down. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to blame you for this. I honestly think that the negativity that spews from your mouth comes from a good place. You are instinctually a teacher and a leader. People are drawn to you and they naturally look up to you, as I did, so it’s understandable that I believed you when you told me that neither I, or my horses, were good enough to make it in this business.
I didn’t start riding as a child, like many other professionals out there. I started when I was 18 and right before I turned 21 I quit for 5 years. I don’t have the mileage under my belt that most riders have, so it’s understandable that my green mistakes would put you off.
While you were focused on everything I was doing wrong, you failed to acknowledge the bigger picture. You live in a world of polished professionals and finished horses, so I get why you would overlook the diamond in the rough. Why waste your time and tarnish your golden reputation on such shitty horses and an inexperienced professional. I imagine you worked long and hard to get to a place where you no longer have to invest so much in such a high risk stock.
I guess this is why you and I didn’t work out in the end. I love the underdog. I love the Secretariats and the Sea Biscuits. Nobody is ever going to make a movie about the horse that was bought for half a million and won the Hunter Derby. We see it everyday. With every horse there are ups and downs, but that horse doesn’t have the whole world watching, waiting for it to fail. And when it succeeds, no one really cares.
But this isn’t just about validation for me. This is about inspiring others. All the riders who have the drive, and the willingness to work their asses off to get the chance to swim with the sharks. The riders who are willing to put in the time on the horse they bought for $1000 so they can steal the blue ribbon from the 6 figure horse. The ones who groom all day long so they can come home with an hour of daylight to ride their horse after 4 hours of sleep so they can wake up again at 5am. The ones you said weren’t good enough because they don’t know what it’s like to sit on the horse that has already won 5 championships because the only horse they have ever sat on were the ones they bought at an auction.
So, regarding your advice to give up training and work at a desk- Thanks, but no thanks, because I don’t belong behind a desk, I belong in the saddle. In the next few years, you may see me in the ring and I’ll make a mistake and you’ll laugh at how I should have listened when you told me to hang up my boots. I can see you telling others how you gave me such good advice, but I didn’t listen. That’s fine. Keep watching. There is going to come a day when you have to do a double take because you don’t recognize me. You will think it’s a fluke, because we all have really good days. But it will happen again…. and again….. and again. Till one day, you realize, you got it wrong. Because I will stick my neck out there for you and everyone else to slice. I’ll jump and fall flat on my face (maybe even literally), because I realize now that every cut and every bruise, every failure and embarrassment was placed there, not for me to run from, but as a building block to my dreams.
I didn’t name my business ‘Starbound’ for nothing.
The Dark Horse