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Sun Valley Community School, Idaho

My grandparents have always had horses, and my mom grew up with horses. Sometimes when I would go visit their ranch, I would hop on one of their horses and ride in a little pen. I wasn’t really capable of doing anything except walking or maybe doing a little trotting. I didn’t know much about riding, but I was interested in it. My sister had a really good friend and she introduced to me the style of riding I now do, English hunter riding. One time when I was dropping her off at the barn, she had me come into the barn and meet a brown, misty-colored pony. This got me interested in riding, and then I started to ride. I honestly just loved all the parts of riding. I loved the whole work aspect and just being at the barn all the time, and loved spending time with horses and grooming them.

I had been riding for one or two years and then I started to get into jumping. I rode a pony named Darla, who I leased. A lot of the time, she would speed up to jumps, which was not something that English hunter riders do. She came from a different discipline where you race to jumps, but in English hunter riding, the horse and rider are meant to come to the jump nicely and be put together. She would speed up and I would get worried because it was at a pace I wasn’t used to. So I would always pull her away from the jump. This wasn’t good for both of us because, one, she now thought that anytime she could just not go over the jump, and two, I got in a habit of pulling her away. Every time we started to go to the jump we would both just not go, because either I would pull away or she would not want to go to it.

I started to do this a lot, and I think it was out of fear because I thought she might mess up the jump or that I would lose control over her. It started to build up where I would always be pulling away, and it got really difficult for me to even get over a jump. This made me frustrated with not only Darla, but with riding. I started thinking about quitting when I got frustrated. It also was a little bit scary because I thought I was going to lose control. Obviously, riding was something I loved doing, but when this started happening, I started to forget about why I loved it so much. I kept trying and didn’t give up, but every single time I had to push myself.

One day I had the skill and confidence to not pull her away. I just let her go, and she kind of just slowed herself down. It wasn’t scary at all! This taught me not only to not give up, but also to just sometimes let her have some power too and not be so controlling. I shouldn’t just predict the jump was going to go wrong. If I had given up, I wouldn’t be the rider I am today. This experience made me a much better rider, but I think the real takeaway for me is to not give up in the future when I am having a hard time riding or with anything. Sometimes when I find myself struggling, riding or with just anything in general, I think back to that moment and realize that it made me stronger to not give up.

© Alex. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.


  • Family
  • Loneliness, Doubt or Loss