Pursuing Ambition

Reminiscing about my past birthdays, I realized that every one of them since I was 5 was with horses. I’ll be fifteen in June, so that’s a decade of birthdays involving what I love most. My passion for horses has been constant through all these years, unlike many of the fair weather friends I’ve encountered in middle and high school. My time spent at the barn, at shows, with my equestrian friends, my mom, and my horses are experiences that shape the person I am and the person I’m becoming. It’s possible that these experiences have grown me up rather quickly, as I often felt older than my peers discussing what they had done at the Friday night party. However, these experiences have also forged so many wonderful memories, strengthened my values, and made me a more ambitious and compassionate person.

It was Freshman year when I began to really see how much my dedication to horse riding had changed my outlook on life. As people discussed parties(and drinking), gossiped about everyone in school and were downright mean to many students, I remember feeling exasperated. It seemed to me that no one cared about their lives or had any goals. They were perfectly happy to sit at the same round lunch table and talk about the exact same things every single day. Leaving this shallow school everyday, I would go to the stables. Riding is when I felt focused but free, determined but relaxed, and felt the connection between my horse and I. There is something about riding that seems to push any trivial worry aside and really put things in perspective.

Maybe there’s a connection between my commitment to riding and my willingness to at least try in class. Another time I have felt like I am the only one that seems to care was in my sophomore History class. Sitting in those rows, directly facing a teacher, a teacher that was asking the class a question. Backs of the student’s heads drooped, blurry eyed and not a hand up in the air. Once again, I answered the teacher’s question. This mundane routine repeated itself. I think that horse riding has taught me that honest communication and effort is usually what’s needed. Just showing that you care and are focused means much more to a history teacher than the ability to recite the first ten presidents.

Sure, always being the only one to participate in class often helped me earn good grades. It also led me to ask myself what was the point of a brick and mortar school. People tend to tell me that online school does not have the same benefits of bouncing ideas off other students. My rebuttal is quite simple. In traditional school, or at least the school I attended, other student’s weren’t even participating. I don’t know when my revelation came. Possibly, it was the Physics class in which the teacher asked us why we were doing the IB program. A majority of the students answers were along the lines of “my mom made me” or “I don’t know”. It made me feel like the only one with goals. While I know this isn’t true, it seemed that horse riding had given me the courage to express my goals and not act like a deer in the headlights.

I do realize that it is more the journey than the final goal, but the journey should have depth and experiences that influence your outlook on life. My passion for horse riding and the people I know because of it have made this journey an unforgettable one. I distinctly recall a time when I knew that horse riding really was making “high-school” the time of my life, just not in the stereotypical way. It was at a horse show in Canada. Looking out onto the sprawling, lush grass Grand Prix field, I knew that I was seeing something special. These horse and rider combinations showed their talent and moxie as they galloped across the huge field and soared over the five and a half foot fences. I was watching this with my mom and two of my best friends. Maybe I’m biased, but that experience definitely rivaled any traditional high school experience.

Just watching that Grand Prix, the skills and careful planning is evident. Horse riding has undoubtedly taught me how to tactfully and thoughtfully plan. Many high school students just act on a whim and find themselves in dangerous situations or with a consequence they didn’t expect. I feel like the planning I do to ride a jumper course is similar to the kind of planning that is essential to life. I analyze a course, picture how I want that course to be, weigh pros and cons of various decisions I might face during the course and come up with my ideal plan; but when it comes down to it, I have to be adjustable and alter the way I ride that course based on unexpected circumstances, things my horse does, and the jumps or “obstacles” in the course. This is strikingly similar to the way I view my life. The course planning with my horse trainer has turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons in my life. In an insightful way, I have learned the skills and strength required to face things that come my way and not throw my life away.

It isn’t just “horse riding” in particular that has taught me these lessons, it is also the horses themselves. I cannot think of a single other thing in my life that has taught me more about being a good person than the horses. There is so much communication between a horse and a rider, every little signal affects the horse. Horse will try and try and try if you are being fair with them. I feel like that persistent effort on their part has shown me that you get out of life what you put into it. I am sure that the horses have had a direct impact on my ambition. I have high aspirations with horse riding and outside of horse riding. Maybe I plan a little too much, worry about things a little too often, or put too much pressure on myself but I feel like I have direction in my life. That right there is what bugged me about many high school students at my previous school. They just didn’t even think in the forward direction, everything revolved around the “now”. I never understood the incessant drama and pettiness. I’ve been called an old soul, maybe that’s true, but I honestly think it’s more that my passion for horse riding keeps me motivated to do well and be an empathetic person.

"Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive."(Robert Schuller) This quote encompasses the mindset I have come to have because of the horses. Through many experiences with my horses and the people in the horse world, I have become conscious of the significance that goals bear in our lives. I cannot pinpoint a single moment where I had this realization, rather my perspective has been formed by many instances, many horses, many rides, and many people. I’m frequently asked “What about your social life if you’re in online school?” by many different people. I’ve never worried if they were right. I know that the friends I have made through the horse world are friends that will last. I like to go after my dreams and goals, and I can only do that when I’m around people that care about their lives. Horse riding has given me a more mature frame of mind and I believe that it has shown me that I must endeavor to reach my aspirations.





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