Written by: Jacqueline Siani
There’s never a day that I regret becoming an equestrian. I remember when it all began; that day my mother decided that dance was “too sexy” (mostly due to the music of Britney Spears) and that it was time that my sister and I started to ride. I had always ridden, but had never gotten too serious about it. So at the age of 5, I ended my dance career and entered a whole new ball park. I don’t know if my mother knew what she had gotten herself into. Did she know that it was probably the most expensive sport she could have put us in? Did she know that it wasn’t going to be just a hobby, fad, or short term after school sport? I honestly don’t think she was fully prepared for the outcome of switching us into riding. It’s one thing when you grow up going to the barn to ride your horse after school; it’s another when you have to fully take care of your horse and ride it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up with the funding to keep my horse in full board. I’ve always done rough board, meaning I’m there every day, rain or shine, taking care of my horse. Yes, it’s a lot of work and responsibility, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! Sometimes I wonder if my mother thought that my passion would end once I graduated high school. I knew many girls who sold their horses right after graduation. For me, that wasn’t an option. There was no way that I would sell my best friend just because I was going to college. Instead, I made the decision to attend a local school that I could commute to; that way I didn’t have to sell or relocate my horse. During the school year, I worked three days a week, 9-5. I commute to school three days a week for full days of classes, and on Sundays I go to local rated horse shows. Every day after work or school, you can find me at the barn mucking out my stall and riding my horse. I have to work to be able to afford my board, hay, grain, shavings and weekly shows (not to mention vet bills and shoes).
Being 20 years old, it can sometimes be a lot, but I always remember that I’m working hard so that I can enjoy a sport that I would be miserable without. Although I can’t afford many things that my competitors can, I never let it affect my riding. I’m not able to afford lessons due to my financial status, but I work hard at home on my own so that I can be just as competitive as anyone away at shows. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with my horse to AA shows like HITS Saugerties and Ocala. I’m in love with away shows! I try to save up so that I can attend at least one a year. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you! No matter what, it’s important to know that it’s never a bad thing to work hard towards what you most desire. It’s alright to be tired and frustrated when you know that the outcome is what brings you the most joy. Most importantly, it is most definitely okay to do whatever it takes to keep yourself in the saddle! My barn is my sanctuary; it’s my escape! Everyone deserves their own happy place, and for us equestrians, it just happens to always be the barn.