Hunky Hanoverian is excited to share a guest blog today from a good friend. Liana is here to share her journey with horses, and her adult amateur experience. Enjoy!
Hello everybody! My name is Liana, and I’m excited to be writing for Hunky Hanoverian!
For a little bit of background, I’m a young professional who is recently getting back into riding. I met Kelly through Chronicle of the Horse (she actually helped me find Bay Yard via private message over a year ago, and then she moved out herself!) and once she and Rio came to Bay Yard, we actually got to meet in person! Yay! Nothing like the power of the internet when it comes to connecting fellow horse lovers. Recently, we were out at the barn discussing my riding history and how I ended up at Bay Yard. Kelly was interested in my riding journey, and asked if I would be willing to share my story, and here we are! So, what do I, as a young adult without a horse, have to talk about on a horse blog? Well, getting back into riding as an adult amateur, of course!
Getting back into riding is hard. At any age. I was lucky enough to have lessons provided for me by my parents when I was a child. I did the horse camp thing, I did the hunter/jumper lesson thing for a little bit, and then I got into Arabians. My best friend’s mom bought the sweetest Arabian (a grandson of Huckleberry Bey, actually) that she moved out to Baywood Equestrian Center in Princeton, Texas. Naturally, I followed her. I took lessons on him, and I took lessons on other horses, and my addiction never stopped. I was so lucky, because even though I never had the means for my own horse, I was put on any and everything I could ride, and through these experience I was able to develop my skills as a rider. I even got the opportunity to do a few shows, and always did well. The shows were always on borrowed horses, with borrowed show clothes, etc, but that didn’t dampen the experience for me. If anything, it made me value my time with horses even more.
Fast forward to graduating high school. I moved to New York for school, and that’s about when I stopped riding. Of course I missed it, and thought about it regularly, but now that I was an adult (right, Liana, eighteen is totally an adult!) and would have to pay for it myself, it just wasn’t feasible. I think many riders can relate to what a difficult transition this can be. I know that Kelly has written about her riding journey during the post-junior years, and it is different for everybody. For me, it meant a temporary break from horses- cold turkey.
I ended up moving back to Texas relatively soon after that, and just…never really rode. I didn’t even realize that it could’ve been part of what made my life at that time less enjoyable. It was actually an attorney I worked with, at one of my lowest points, who suggested I take up riding again.
Well, now that I was doing it with my own money, I was going to do what I had ALWAYS wanted to get back into. Jumping.
I found Summer Hill Farms, in Flower Mound, and rode there for quite a bit of time. They really focused on the basics with me, and helped me to build a solid foundation. However, I wasn’t able to jump often. I was happy there for awhile, until I had a surgery and realized that what I really wanted to do was JUMP. To get over that jumping anxiety that all of us have at some point or another. It wasn’t until I got to Bay Yard that I really got the h/j adult amateur experience.
The adult amateur experience as an amateur without a horse is…interesting, to say the least. It’s very similar to when I was younger – I’ll ride anything anyone throws at me. I’m grateful every time someone lets me ride their horse. Immensely grateful. Sometimes it means skipping a lesson because I don’t have the funds. Sometimes it means celebrating a scoring champion at a small, local schooling show in 2’6” Hunters.
It’s finding a good barn where you can have a glass of wine, or a beer, with your trainer, and talk about your lives. It’s your trainer understanding and respecting you, and bettering you, but also having to be a little more patient with you because you’re not 12, and you will not do that rollback today. It’s scouring page after page for the PERFECT used saddle that fits into your not always large horse budget. It’s going to lessons with a hangover. Or, rather, calling out of lessons because you have a hangover. It’s the freedom to not care about what’s cool and trendy, and to express yourself the way you want to. It’s SCOURING consignment shops regularly because it’s just so incredibly hard to make yourself spend $200 on riding pants. But of course, if you find them for $150, it’s a steal.
It’s about not having to be perfect, and just enjoying the journey.
I’ve only been back into riding for…three years now. Granted, that feels like forever, but in reality, it really isn’t a whole lot of time. If I had to total the costs of the helmets, the riding clothes, the lessons, the boots, the saddle…everything, it would probably make me sick (especially that new Miss Shield – yikes! Thank goodness for international helmet awareness day at Quail Hollow Tack!). I do it because we love it, and I’ll continue to do it until I can’t anymore. Isn’t that what it’s about? The money is secondary to the joy you feel when you drive up to the barn, the feeling when you sit in the saddle after a long and stressful day.
So, with everything that’s going on in your life, just don’t forget to just enjoy the ride. Sit on your horse, give them a pat, and be grateful that we have this opportunity to work with such incredible creatures even as we get older. I find the older I get, the more grateful I am for everything this sport has given me, and what it can give me.
Hopefully, in the next year or so, I’ll be able to scrape up enough funds to do a local A show. Likely, it’ll be Fort Worth (if I can convince my family to donate to the cause…birthday present, anyone?) or maybe even Waco. Shows are definitely not the end all though- and it’s ok if I don’t make it, because I am enjoying every second of that adult amateur life!