I know I often mention the struggles of being an adult amateur rider, but despite a tight budget and aching joints, I much prefer being an adult amateur rider to a junior rider. Here’s why:
- Wine. Wine before and after your classes at horse shows. Wine before and after your lessons. Wine to celebrate, soothe the ego and achiness, or just because. Mostly, though, wine is a great way to bond with your horse show and barn friends. It makes everything better. Everything.
- No no stirrups. I can now play the “I’m too old and can’t risk it card.” Every time I’ve fallen off after I became a real adult in the real world, I’ve thought to myself, I’m not hurt, I’m just going to need a minute. And then I proceed to lay in the sand and contemplate the universe and my life choices as I attempt to take deep breaths. Gone are my junior days where I pop out of the sand like a fresh summer weed. That, my friend, is why we can say no to no stirrup work.
- Competitive means something different now. In our junior days, it was all about whether you owned a horse, how long you had owned the horse, how high you had jumped, what fancy dressage moves you knew, what level you showed. Now, I could care less. Maybe it’s because I own a horse now, and I’ve made her myself, and I jumped up to 4′ when i was in college, and I’ve taught Sabra how to do leg yields, shoulder-ins, etc. Maybe it’s because I’ve realized I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself and my horse. And to me, I’m honestly just happy when I feel like I had a good trip around the arena, remembered my course, and my horse and I both learned something. You know, productivity and progress and all that.
- Mounting blocks. I can’t remember the last time I mounted from the ground. It’s been years. YEARS. Definitely more than half a decade. Even the medium ponies I’ve hopped on lately, I’ve gotten a leg up. I’m just not that flexible or spry anymore, and it’s way too much effort to get on from the ground. Instead, mounting blocks, the ramp, step stools and ladders, and even the fence — they’re a necessity. I’m not competing in equitation classes anymore, so what’s the point of “practicing” mounting from the ground? My horse isn’t that tall, but neither am I. Mounting blocks = must.
- Buy all the things! Just kidding, the adult amateur budget doesn’t allow it. BUT, part of being an adult is creating the budget yourself, which, for better or worse, means you can buy lots of horsie things, or at least budget for lots of horsie things, or be a financially smart adult and not buy all the horsie things just because they’re pretty and you like to collect all the things. You can, however, sometimes buy horse stuff on a whim when you need a pick-me-up. No matter whether you buy something or not anytime you walk into a tack store, it’s nice to have the freedom.
- Just MacGyver it. I’ve learned to fix and MacGyver all sorts of things, or at least attempted to fix things. I’ve learned the difference between duct tape and gorilla tape, which I used on Sabra’s turnout blanket, and painted and (half-assed-ly) nailed in my bridle hook to my tack locker wall. I’ve piece-mealed tack, and used random “alternative, creative options” when my boot laces shredded. In doing so, I’ve saved money and learned life skillz!
So, readers, what perks have I missed?