Every day I write stories about truly amazing riders, many of who are much younger than I am, and their conquests in the hunter jumper world. Admittedly, I find myself envious of most of them. Their calendar never seems to run short of shows and their wallet never seems to run dry. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished I would have had the opportunity and the means to ride as seriously as some of these kids get to when I was their age. But here I am, nearing closer to 30 with each and every passing day and I am just now marking several of my “dreams” off of my bucket list. Somehow by the grace of the horse gods, I have managed to make one of my biggest dreams come true this year: I am going to Florida.
It started out as a pipe dream that I would preach to my husband in hopes that we would one day win the lottery and he would send me on my merry way to the sunny state. But, alas, lady fortune was not in our favor.
And then my trainer told me she was moving to Florida.
And not like “hey I will be in Florida for the winter, see you in March.” Like she was moving. Forever. My trainer, my best friend, the one person who has helped me overcome countless hurdles and learn how to actually get my heels down… gone.
Photo courtesy of Meagan DeLisle
I will admit, for a while I held a pity-party. It just didn’t seem fair. I finally had these amazing horses (horses that people like me never have the chance to afford). I finally had stocked my tack room with quality tack. And I FINALLY was thinking and riding at the same time! Why did she have to move NOW?
And then my husband said, “well, looks like you have to go to Florida then, don’t you?”
Of course, he was joking. He never imagined that I would rally together, save gobs of money and make it happen. But, he was wrong. I considered this my big hoorah. My “not-so-mid-life-crisis.” My potentially only chance to go to Florida. Sure, most of my vacation time will be used hopping state lines. Yes, I will have to sit at home while all my friend gallivant around exotic places this summer while on vacation. But, none of that matters to me this year, because this year I am going to Florida. I am actually going to show in places that I would have only dreamed of just a few years ago.
Of course, lest we not forget that I suffer from #brokeadultammy probs, so I skimped and I saved and I sold a thousand things on Facebook Marketplace. Designer purses? Who needs those? All those decorations we never unpacked after we moved? See yah. Tack that I was hoarding like a crazy cat lady? Time to find a new home because I won’t need you in Florida. Suddenly, Florida didn’t seem too far out of reach.
Here I am, nearly 30 years old and heading to Florida for the winter circuit for the first time while tons of lucky kiddos and juniors are going for their umpteenth year in a row. So what am I getting at with all of this rambling exactly?
Sometimes, life’s greatest blessings come at strange times. Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we aren’t born with opportunities, but we can make them. This has been years in the making. Years of literal blood, sweat and tears. Late nights crying into my pillow wishing I could pay for another entry fee. Picking up extra shifts at work because I needed the money to pay for the farrier bill. Suffering my way through dead-end job, after dead-end job so I could build up my resume and apply for a job with great benefits and time off policies.
My sweet Rumba enjoying her first day of turnout in Florida. I am on pins and needles waiting for the opportunity to join her there for the first time in January! Photo by Jen Robertson.
I understand that it is a privilege to do what I do. I know that I am so very lucky to have what I have. But I also know that none of this has been handed to me. Sure, I have had some help along the way, but it has been my hard work and unrelenting determination that has made this dream a reality. And if I can do it, I know you can too.
So look out Florida. This adult ammy Florida first-timer is coming at you strong.