Alivia Hart opens up about the challenges of being a student and rider in her guest blog post "Balancing Act: Riding and School". "School is a lot like horse showing. You set a goal, you work hard and prepare yourself and then you take the hard work and put it to the test. As soon as I worked in school like I worked with my horses, I found that not only was it easier, but I also felt more motivated to learn and succeed in school."
Photo Credit: Tessa DeJong
I would like to start out by introducing myself — my name is Ally Worthington and I am delighted to start writing this blog with Equestrian Coach. I am fourteen years old currently and have been riding seriously for around 10 years. My parents took me on a pony ride when I was three, and I have been hooked ever since! I showed for the first time when I was six and the rest is history.
Here’s a little bit about myself:
My living situation is pretty complicated at the moment. My father lives in Las Vegas, NV and my mother lives in New York part time. I usually spend summers with my mother in New York and travel back west for the school year. In May, I began riding with Frank Madden and Stella Manship out of Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep my horses on the east coast throughout the fall and early winter to continue training with Frank. Living in many different locations has allowed me to ride with a number of trainers, all with different teaching styles and methods. Through the past few years though, I have noticed one particular thing in common that all of the trainers have — they all share a great deal of respect for Bernie Traurig. I was ecstatic when he asked me to write this blog for Equestrian Coach.
I first met Bernie when I rode in one of his clinics when I was ten. His emphasis on horsemanship and effective, forward riding has stuck with me these past four years. During the summer of 2011, he traveled out and helped me quite a bit both in the ring and in the barn. He pushed me to accomplish goals during that summer that I didn’t think were quite obtainable. Not in terms of winning ribbons or qualifying for finals, but for becoming a better rider and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. At the time, I had a four-year-old hunter that had recently been imported. Frankly, when he first got to us, he did not know a thing. I went through a rough patch with him as I was still green as a rider, but Bernie’s expert instruction and classical foundation helped me figure him out. It was a privilege to ride with Bernie and I love the fact that these Equestrian Coach videos can make his teachings more accessible to everyone.
As of now, I ride and show two horses: Manchester, a jumper gelding, and Kasimir (known as Mario around the barn), also a gelding who does the equitation division with me. I recently began leasing Mario from Frank, and coincidentally, we made the connection that Bernie had imported him from Europe as a leggy five-year-old (small world!). This fall, my first time showing Mario was at ASPCA Maclay Finals in Kentucky. We didn’t have the round I was looking for, but all-in-all it served as great experience and I think that I learned more about him there than I could have putting in decent rounds in smaller classes.
It can definitely be hard when you’re caught up in competitive atmosphere of the country’s most prestigious shows, but sometimes you have to put aside your disappointment and chalk things up to experience. I would say that I am my own worst critic, so that has been one of my long-term challenges. But, whenever I am struggling mentally with my own riding, I remember why I started riding in the first place; for my overwhelming love of the horse, the bond that can be shared between an animal and human, and the invisible language between the two that we strive to master every time we walk into the barn.
Like I said before, I really cannot wait to launch this blog so that I can help aspiring riders like me figure out the horse world. It can be overwhelming sometimes for a number of reasons; ranging from financial stress to balancing horses and school. But in the end, it’s devotion, dedication, and a great work ethic that can get you to the top.
That’s all for now,