I started riding horses as a child when I lived in Canberra, Australia. I actually fell off on my first trail ride and my folks were sure that would be the end of it. I wasn't the bravest kid on the block. Despite falling, I got back on and finished the ride (obviously since we were out in the bush and my fear of poisonous snakes and spiders far outweighed my fear of an old trail horse). At the end of the ride, I was offered the chance to go to summer camp at the farm and take a few lessons. Riding soon became a passion.
When we returned to Canada a few months later, I started taking riding lessons at a local riding school. That summer, I competed in my first schooling show. All of a sudden, I found my calling. I fell in love with the excitement of the competition. I didn't really care if I won the class, I was more excited to see how I would rank against some of the older riders I looked up to. The next summer I started travelling to competitions, and the year after that I started eventing, which is a thrilling combination dressage, cross-country and show jumping, for those of you who understand the horse world. I was always looking for the next challenge, however I started to become aware of how big the jumps were getting. As an alternative to jumping, I decided to focus on my efforts on dressage.
The horse I was riding at the time was a former racehorse. She was a sweetheart, but was not ideal for the dressage ring. I took it on as a challenge to turn her into a dressage horse. We quickly moved up the ranks and I soon found myself competing in the national ring as a junior rider. I wasn't the best, but I also wasn't the worst. This acheivement gave me so much confidence and self-esteem as a teenager and helped to keep me focused on what's important - a challenging task for a seventeen year old.
In addition to riding, I was also teaching riding lessons and coaching student who themselves were starting to travel to competitions. I loved teaching the students who shared the same passion. It was such a thrill to see them succeed and finally feel the movement I had been trying to teach them for weeks.
As I grew older I lost my focus and let my outside life start to take over. At nineteen, I stopped riding and teaching. I started working full-time and going to school at night. Shortly after, I met my future husband and my priorities had completely changed. For a while, we did consider buying a small hobby farm on 50 acres, but the offer fell through and we moved on to something else.
After Cate was born, I decided to get back into riding at a new barn near our house. On my second ride, I rode a beautiful mare and we just clicked. That was the end of April. I couldn't resist the temptation to compete and so 2 months later, we were at our first provincial dressage competition together. By the end of the day, we were First Level Champion. A couple shows later, I decided to try my luck at a Second Level test and guess what - we got some decent scores! I was thrilled to compete on such a fabulous horse, however I felt that the deeper I got into riding, the less time I had for my family. A few months later I decided to stop riding for the second time.
I now have a basement full of riding equipment that hasn't been touched in over a year, but the thought of parting with it is like the thought of losing a dream. If we ever win big in the lottery, there is no doubt in my mind that we would buy a farm and some horses. More so, with two little girls, I am convinced that riding will be in our future. For now, I will think fondly of the rubbermaid totes in my basement and look forward to years of being a barn mom and maybe one day, it will be my turn again.