The Equestrian Lifestyle...
Each time I try to explain what a horse show entails, I find myself incapable of putting it into words that a non- horse person would understand. My non - equine friends have come to know them as " the weeks when Ashley disappears." Most non - riders look at me like I have lost my mind as I tell them about the days and hours that I will work. There are moments when I think about all of the hard work, crazy hours, and general insanity that the shows entail and I think to myself, " Is this really what you've dreamt of..."
People show for so many different reasons... For fun, for fame, for money,for the friends, for their horses, for the thrill of the competition, and so much more. So when I found myself trying to explain the insanity, I started to think about why I do it. There isn't just one reason though....
Although the early mornings can be hard to bear, there is nothing more beautiful then pulling into the show grounds while it's still dark. Walking out to an empty ring in the silence that can only be found when the rest of the world is still asleep, seeing the sun rise over the arenas while lunging your first horse of many, and watching the day come to life.
There are times when it seems as if all of the hard work, and hours put in are for nothing. Yet there is nothing more rewarding than those 3 minutes in the show ring where you are watching a rider shine who has worked so hard to improve, when you see a rider walk out of the ring with a smile on their face because they rode better than the last time, recognizing joy in their eyes as they win their first blue ribbon, or experiencing a young riders excitement at showing for the first time.
On certain days there will be a horse or five who all seem to be out to get you. They are wild when lunging, they don't want to wear their earplugs, they are unhappy about getting their legs washed, or they just don't want to stand still. However, there is nothing more humbling then when these amazing animals share with us their talent, when they remind us that patience is the most important quality to posses. When they remind us that sometimes it's going to be a bad day, but come tomorrow there will always be a fresh start. There is no better teacher than a horse, to remind you that no matter how busy life may seem there is always time to slow down and take care of an important task with care and patience.
Sometimes it seems as though the weeks will never end, that you will never eat nor sleep again. Yet when you compare the hardships to the all of the blessings that being part of such an incredible world brings.... It's worth it a hundred times over.
The friendships that are made with other riders, the partnerships that are solidified between rider and horse, the proof that hard work always pays off, the bond between you and your barn family, the knowledge that we live in a world that those on the outside will just never quite understand, is all priceless.
So when people ask me what I do for a job, I smile and tell them that what I do is not a job, but a lifestyle. No matter what challenges I may encounter along my journey I am blessed with the knowledge that I get to spend each day sharing the joy of horses with others through teaching, riding, training, and in short...doing what I love!