This past weekend was hands down one of the most amazingly bittersweet weekends of my life. A little over two years ago, I wandered onto the farm at Altamonte Show Stable with one goal: to be better. And I am proud to say that through countless hours on the road and in the saddle, I was able to do just that. Over the course of two years, I completely transformed both as a rider and a horsewoman, and I have my trainer Jen to thank for all of that.
Trail rides on the farm. Photo by Meagan DeLisle
Earlier this year, Jen had mentioned to me that her family was considering relocating to Ocala, Florida, full-time. At first, I remember feeling this sinking feeling in my gut that everything I had grown to know and love would one day come to an end, but then I decided to make the most of the time I did have at Altamonte and work my butt off to meet my goals. It has been a long two years of me making the three hour, one-way trek to St. Louis to ride at Altamonte, I didn’t want that to all be for naught. I soaked up as much of Jen and Brody’s knowledge as I could during the remainder of our time together, and it all paid off. I closed out the year with a qualifying ride for the American Eventing Championships on my event horse Bear and as division champion at our last rated jumper show on my jumper, Rumba.
After unpacking from the show this weekend, I drove away from the St. Louis home base of Altamonte Show Stable for the last time. While this isn’t goodbye for good as I will be joining the Altamonte team in Florida this winter, it is the closing of a very special chapter in my life. We all know the saying when one door closes, another door opens, but I am not 100% sure which door I am going to go through. No matter what I decide, one thing is for certain: I am going to be the new girl… again.
Is there any feeling worse than being the new kid on campus? I am dreading the thought of pulling in to a new facility and starting new. I know everything about Altamonte; I know the turnout schedule, I know the way that they like to clean and hang their tack, I know our rituals the minute we arrive at the show, I know what Jen wants me to do and what Jen wants me to let her handle. I am comfortable and confident at Altamonte, and when I show up at my new barn for the first time, I am going to have to start all over again, absorbing that information.
The farm that built me. Photo by Meagan DeLisle
What I have loved most about my time at Altamonte is that I get to be that horse-loving ten-year old that I never got to be as a kid. I get to the barn in the morning, and I am there most of the afternoon. I love taking my time tacking up for my lessons and grooming my horse afterward. I love painstakingly cleaning my tack after each ride and helping sweep up around the barn. I love sitting in the grass in the sunshine, and watching other lessons, taking note of what my trainer is saying. All of those things, and more are what keep riding fun for me. And I worry that I won’t be able to find a barn which emulates the family-feel I have at Altamonte.
It feels like starting over at a new school in the middle of the eighth grade. I am going to have to learn my way around a new place. I am going to have to make new friends. I am going to worry about what kind of first-impression I will make on the new team. The stress and anxiety are real, my friends.
All of this worry was overtaking me, and rather than let it ruin my last few months with Jen in Florida, I have made a new commitment to myself. I am going to see this as what it is: an exciting new opportunity. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be the new girl. This could be a chance to learn something different, to pick up on new methods, to make new friends, to better myself. Rather than allowing this move to hold me back, I should allow this move to propel me forward. Besides, it wasn’t too long ago that I had to navigate these very waters when I moved to Altamonte. Change is terrifying, but change can be the momentum that pushes us forward.
So many great things have come from my time at Altamonte, but truly the best of them all has been the fact that Jen connected me with these two amazing horses. Photo by Snowfall Designs Photography.
There is no doubt about it, being the new girl can be scary, but it can also be the start of something new. I am forever grateful for everything the team at Altamonte has done for me over the past two years. If I go into this transition with an open mind like I did when I came here, who knows what I may be able to accomplish!