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Hard Work Is Hard.

In this industry, if you want to make it, if you want to be able to work horses, teach humans to work with their horses and still be able to afford to eat dinner most nights you have to work ridiculously hard for it. Nothing in this country, the world even, is handed to (most of) us. In the beginning you will get very little return. You will struggle to get your name out there, find clients whose ideas, passions and theories align with yours, find training horses that aren’t trying to kill you every time you get on their back, and find a few working students who want to be a part of the operation you (are trying to) have mobilized and who also understand they will be working just as hard to help. At times it feels as though nothing is going right, no one is on your side and you might even be a little crazy (there is research to support it, after all). You’ll ask yourself, “Why do I do this? Why do I work 47 days in a row with no hope of slowing down?” You’ll agonize over every client who leaves, wondering if it was something you did or didn’t do, if the horse was ready, if the owner was ready, if only you had a little more time, why don’t people just tell you the truth from the start. You might even lose faith in humanity every once in a while. But you need to continue on this path. Eventually, and without even realizing it, what feels like the wheels on the bus you are trying to push up a run-away truck ramp on I-77 Southbound through North Carolina start moving on their own.

There are little signs here and there that tell you it will all be okay. The day you don’t call back the mother of

6 who wants 4 out of the 6 to take a lesson and then maybe she will want to ride after but she’s not sure yet and do you have barrel horses for lease, because you simply don’t need the business is one. The day where the owners come for a ride and the training horse is an absolute angel or after the horse whom you're sure is going to be the death of someone has gone home and you find out they are a complete doll for anyone to ride, you think to yourself, “Well, s#!+, maybe I am doing a good job”, the day where you get excited because the line up of 8 lessons are all your favorite clients and you can’t wait to teach them, the day you look around and realize that you have a fantastic team that feels just as exhausted as you do because they are working just as hard for you and the success of their team (#teamgallifrey). That means maybe, someday in the not-so-near future, things will get easier or at the very least, you can start to take one day off a week.

The same can be said for training of horses. Good training will not happen in 30, 60, 90 days. Years. It will take years. I look at the William I first sat on compared to the William I have today and I am blown away. This could not have been rushed. This could not have been forced. He and I grew together and continue to grow together. There are days where I wonder if something is ever going to come through and then without realizing it, things are happening (like flying changes). It doesn’t come easy and I have fallen for a difficult breed to sparkle in Dressage but it is not impossible. Recently, while at a clinic with Morten Thomsen, I was told (in so many words), “He [William], will never move like Valegro, but that doesn’t mean he cannot learn how and do well”. He is 100% correct and it may take longer than I want but it will happen. Just like I have strapped in and settled for the long haul of building my business, I must do the same with training my horses. Hagrid especially will take longer. He is sensitive and smart and needs time to build self-confidence and to relax into the work. He is unlike any other horse I have trained before with a fiery sensitivity that my trainer Felicitas feels will be something great once channeled into work. Until then, it’s down to hard and patient work.

This industry just cannot be rushed. If you do, you wind up unhappy, broke (physically and monetarily) or out of work completely. I’m the first to admit that I am guilty of falling into the “why is this not working/happening/finished/easy yet” game but I (or someone else) usually can snap myself out of it. Hard work pays off, it just takes time. It’s okay to have doubts throughout the whole process. I even enrolled in Graduate school to get my Masters degree in Coaching Education just in case this whole dressage trainer thing is a flop. The biggest lesson to take from my struggle is that it’s not okay to give up until you feel you have put in the maximum effort required to make it work. This is true of riding, training, and life in general. If you want it easy and fast, try a different barn; only hard workers get to hang out here!

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