Ever since I was very young I begged my parents for a horse. They always said "no". I told them I would work hard and take very good care of it, but still they resisted. I continued to be persistent when I discovered that my neighbor had horses and she was willing to let me ride them. After spending hours and hours at her barn over the course of a few months she offered me to lease one of her horses. I was overcome with excitement! She told me if I worked around the barn the horse could stay there for free and she would give me lessons. In addition the monthly lease cost was pretty small in comparison to what other people would offer. It was perfect, there was no way my parents could say no.
My parents agreed to lease the horse and it was so important to me that within a year I stopped playing soccer and doing ballet. I was eleven years old at the time. I wanted to focus my attention on the horse because I had big dreams and goals, like competing and eventually jumping. The first year of leasing the horse was wonderful. About that time I went to my first horse show, and I was hooked. Showing and competing with horses can get very expensive and my parents weren't willing to pay for all the extra expenses other than the monthly lease fee. The horse also needed shoes on his hooves if I was going to show regularly. That is where I ran into my first financial dilemma.
Now I was twelve years old and needing money to support this passion. My mom suggested that I teach younger children how to ride on my neighbors horses for money. This worked out really well for a year or two, but it wasn't enough. I started doing odd jobs like babysitting, washing cars, and if anyone was offering money for a service I was right there ready to take on the job.
As I was becoming a better rider I joined 4H so I could show on my budget because they make 4H fairly inexpensive. With becoming a better rider I wanted more lessons from other people and trainers. I began to work at the barn where my 4H club met so I could trade off work for riding lessons. The trainer there specialized in jumping and dressage, which were disciplines that I was really interested in. Once I started jumping I realized that I had reached a whole new level of expensive riding because now my horse needed tack that I couldn't borrow and had to invest in and he needed supplements for his joints.
I continued to work odd jobs, give lessons, and work at the barn to earn lessons; However my parents and I still decided it wasn't enough. I picked up a job doing office work at a vet clinic that I could do at home. I got that job at the age of fourteen. At that time I was moving on to high school which opened up another riding opportunity for me: High school equestrian team. I couldn't wait to join the high school team, I knew people who rode on the team and it sounded like an amazing opportunity. It offered for me to do a variety of events at one show. My freshman year riding on the team I didn't qualify for state because the competition was much tougher that it was at 4H shows. I was determined to become an even better rider, I needed to fulfill my dreams.
I started to ride 5-6 times a week rather than 3-4, I was ready to step up my game at competitions. My sophomore year on the team I barely qualified for state. We have three districts meets to qualify for state and I really wanted to go to state for jumping because it is my favorite event. I didn't place high enough to qualify at the first or second meet, but at the third meet I won my first event ever, and qualified for state. I can't put into words the feeling that I had when I knew that all my hard work had paid off, I had finally made it to the "big leagues". State was a personal successful for me and I again barely qualified for regionals, the final competition of the season. My drill team took home second place and I was in a three way tie for third in jumping, I was elated. That year had turned out so well.
Now that I had some success in jumping I was ready to find another jumping trainer because my old one just wasn't cutting it. I couldn't work off my lessons with my new trainer, so I quit working at my old trainers barn and began working at a boarding barn. Now I was sixteen and getting my license so I could travel to work. I had additional expenses that came with driving, that included paying for my gas and half of the car insurance.
I now work three jobs, plus any odd jobs that come my way, in addition I ride 6-7 times a week to stay in competition form, and I have started college as a senior in high school, through a program with the community college. I have had to learn time management skills and be frugal with my money. I rarely eat out, never go to places like Starbucks, and I am very conservative with my hard earned money.
My junior year on the high school team was more proof of my hard work and determination. I qualified for state in four events and was the district jumping champion. I was top 6 in all my events at state including a gold medal in the event "in hand obstacle relay". My sport requires so much of my time and dedication that I don't have a boyfriend distracting me from my goals and most of my friends also ride, which is important to me, and its the only way I can possibly have a social life.