The Realization of Equestrian

Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned.

Over the weekend, I went with my school to a Pony Club mega rally for the first show of 2018. I was so excited. I’ve been riding my horse, Time, for weeks in preparation, and every single time I jumped he had been a saint.

This weekend was different. It shattered any self confidence I had in my riding skills when Time threw me off over a simple cross rail in the warm up arena and bruised my back so much that it currently hurts to breathe as I’m sitting here trying to do my homework after waking up at four am every morning this weekend to get to the show grounds.

I had fallen off just the day before when my horse stopped right in front of a jump. Now, I have to admit that it was my fault that I was in two-point way too early, but that’s besides the point. Not a single scratch was on me, and I shook off the dirt from my helmet, got back on, and finished the course I was set out to do.

Photo Credit: Jerry Mohme Photography

However, that was not the case on Saturday. When I hit the ground, I was certain that if I moved even just an inch my body would shatter into pieces and I’d be sent to the hospital in an ambulance. I couldn’t get up for minutes, until I was rolled onto my back, then I stood up, and I slowly walked foot by foot back to my stall without even getting to do that course.

I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to ride the next day either, and that weeks of training would’ve gone to waste. But the next day I ended up getting back on my horse and started jumping, and though my entire body was shaking every time I thought my horse would refuse a jump, we ended up clearing both courses.

But I guess there’s both pain and pleasure in horseback riding. There’s the sense of accomplishment when you jump a new height or when your horse comes to say hi to you and nuzzles his nose into the palm of your hand when he thinks you have treats. But there’s also the hours of pain whenever you fall off or when a horse steps on your foot. There’s the moments of self-degradation whenever you see a person with better position or better clothes, and the constant thoughts that plague your mind thinking that you’ll never be as good as them.

I’m not going to lie and say that my confidence in my jumping is back, because it’s not, and I don’t think it will be anytime soon (or, at least, until all the bruises go away), but it was a learning experience to some extent.

I’m going to fall off, and probably more times than I wish, and I’ll get back up, and fall and get back up, and that’ll keep happening, but I’ll still continue riding until I no longer can.

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Pissage off

If I hear just one more person saying that “horseback riding isn’t an actual sport,” I will literally rip out their eyeballs and stuff them in their ignorant mouths. Maybe not literally, okay, but seriously, figuratively.

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I don’t think I can handle another baseball or golf squirt trying to explain to me that “the horse does all the work,” because all I do is “sit on it.” Well okay, Richard, I don’t really see you doing much exercise when you walk along next to your caddie. Have you ever tried even holding a horse, a living being that weighs like a thousand pounds and usually really isn’t in the mood for cooperation? I bet your baseball bat doesn’t step on your feet ten times a day.

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And how about the fact that riding horses literally consists of trying to control a usually gigantic flight animal that could probably kill you if it really wanted to, and to do so you literally have to use every single muscle you posses in your tired, half dead body? Then try doing that for like an hour a day, without getting 100% frustrated, or, you know, dying.

But you’re right. It’s not a sport. My bad.

Book smart

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Growing up, I was never good at sports, or at least that’s what I thought. It’s not that I had a pronounced lack of capability, just that I never thought I should be able to take sports seriously.

In my family, one of the most prevalent themes is our insane dedication to sports. Having an uncle in the MLB, a dad who can play or coach practically anything, cousins who dedicate their entire young lives to a single sport, and brothers who have athletic superpowers, it’s a given that everyone puts tremendous pride on everything sport-related.

From soccer to basketball, football to baseball and everything in between, anything my brothers played seemed to come so naturally and effortlessly. They were practically carbon copies of my dad when he was their age. Being the youngest of three, I’ve had the thrilling experience of going to endless games, practices, and races – all displaying my siblings’ somewhat unfair skills.

So of course, as a toddler my parents enrolled me in AYSO and Little League, probably expecting to have produced yet another super-human athlete. Year after year, I humored my parents and played on whatever teams I was signed up for. But year after year, I was never interested. Maybe I might have been a little less coordinated than the average kid, but I’m pretty sure I just never wanted or tried to be good.

When I was old enough to be able to decide for myself, I avoided sports all together. Instead, I opted for a more intellectual path. In elementary school it started to become clear that I was sort of smart and sort of good at music, so that’s where everybody focused their attention.

For so long I’d heard the lighthearted remarks of “she’s just so book smart. Her street smarts, though, they’re a little lacking” or once when I unsuccessfully tried to serve a volleyball a friend joked that I “bring shame to my family’s legacy.” Whenever I attempted to learn something everyone laughed. So, eventually, I laughed about it too. I guess in a way that’s a good thing, because I learned the importance of being able to laugh at myself.

I never took sports seriously because no one ever took me seriously when I tried them. I’m not resentful of all of these years, I’m just disappointed that I’ve been labeled as “un-athletic” for my entire life when, for the majority of it, I’d never had the chance to figure out that I wasn’t.

For awhile I felt bad for my dad. I worried that I had somehow let him down not having a profound interest or ability in sports. In middle school I tried out for the soccer team. It was mostly because my friends were doing it, but part of me wanted to give myself a second chance.

Although the start was pretty rocky, eventually I realized that it was sort of fun. I wasn’t ever the best player on the team, but I also was definitely not the worst. I remember my dad telling me once after a winning game, “You’re getting to be a good soccer player, I’m impressed.” I remember being proud of my performance in that game, but also I was also proud that for the first time ever I had been recognized for my ability in a sport.

When I got into high school, I actually looked forward to the end of the day when I could leave everything behind for a few hours and just kick a ball around with my teammates. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I have the potential to be really good at a sport. During the fall of my freshman year, I decided to join cross country. I really liked the experience, and I liked how I’d gotten in shape, but I was never exceedingly fast or impressive that season.

But this year, I worked a lot harder. I’d started running so much better than I had last season. At each progressive meet, I would cut a considerable amount off my time and at the league final, that work payed off. It was by far my best race ever, and everyone on our team beat their personal records.

This Saturday, we went to CIF preliminaries. I never thought I’d be able to say that.

Cross country has helped me realize that I’m stronger than I knew I could be, physically and mentally. I still have a long way to go, but now I have goals that I can look forward to. And I know with time and dedication I can reach them.

It maybe took me fifteen years to realize it, but after all this time I know that I’m not really all that uncoordinated or un-athletic. I just wish I wouldn’t have put myself in that box so early on. I wish wouldn’t have gone my whole life believing that I was only “book smart” and putting up with all of the “maybe you should just stick to singing” comments.

But I know now, and I’m glad.

The Deadly Truth About Love

I’m not necessarily a person who trusts easily. It takes me a long time to open up to someone, to let them know what goes through my mind or what makes me tick, what makes me happy or sad. But somehow, I manage to put all my trust into a creature who could kill me if they truly wanted to.

I don’t consider myself a daredevil. In fact, I have irrational fears of even the smallest spiders in my room. People question how I manage to be brave enough to get on a 1500 pound horse and ride around an arena galloping over jumps with no anxiety, and honestly I don’t know. The sport is dangerous. Just last year, my roommate had broken her back falling off a horse, and I’ve been close to falling onto a boulder when my horse bucked me out of the dressage arena.

Even then, this didn’t phase me at all. I brushed off the dust, laughed it off, and got back on with no problems. My trust with my horse was still secure even though my luck could’ve been way worse.

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For the past year, since my back surgery, I was constantly warned that one wrong fall would potentially break my back and leave me hospitalized for weeks with the chance I wouldn’t be allowed to ride for a long time.

But I still took the risk, and it’s because my love for the sport was stronger than my fear of pain and injury. Every day I still ride, and every day the fact that horseback riding is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the world barely passes through my mind as I work with my horse.

But that’s the thing about anything everyone loves. Everything is deadly to us in some way and form, and that same exact thing gives some of us life. So horseback riding may be dangerous, but I feel like others can agree with me when I say a rider’s love for their horse is worth devoting their time and trust into these animals despite the threat that floats through the air every day someone steps into an arena.

Sports vs. Education

With sports comes a tedious amount of dedication, which does not always correspond with school; because, despite the amount of dedication sports require, school requires a thousand times that amount.

Many kids who wish to pursue their sports throughout high school, college, and even the rest of their lives have to make a choice; they either have to give up part of school or part of their sport. Most parents would never let kids give up school, because normally parents’ motto is “school comes first.” But to some kids, their parents let them follow their dreams and chose sports over school. Some of my very close friends, who I developed through horseback riding, have parents that permit them to chose their sport first by allowing them to home-school and dedicate their life to the show circuit.

Even though I still continue on the show circuit with my friends, it sets me back in school with the amount of days I have to miss to attend some of the shows. For example, coming up in November, I have nationals in Las Vegas and if I am to attend, it will make me miss a week of school at least, meaning mounds and mounds of homework, tests, and in class assignments to make up. After missing just three days of school last week, it still was a major setback.

As the years continue the amount of homework I will have to make up after missing just three days of school will only increase. Thinking about this only makes me more stressed out and worried about my future with my sport. I would like to think I would never allow myself to quit because I have devoted over ten years of my life to this sport; but many kids, have to give up their sports in high school in order to maintain their grades and prep for college. I hope I don’t have to become one of those kids, but sometimes I just wonder if it would make it all easier.

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Sports vs. Education: From amazonaws.com

 

What does it take to be a lacrosse goalie?

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Lacrosse. A sport that was played by the Native Americans. A sport that solves the problems of war. Instead of killing each other with swords and bows, many chose to play the game of lacrosse. (The solution of the problem would be decided by the winner of the game.) Since then, lacrosse has evolved into a modern sport, although it is not as popular as American football or basketball. Lacrosse industries have seen immense growth in the sport in the past ten years.

There is one specific position in lacrosse that requires the player to have a tough mentality, and good reaction: the goalie. If you think hockey goalies have it tough, imagine guarding a six-by-six foot goal with almost no body protection. Considering that the shots are usually taken five or ten yards out, an 80 mph condensed rubber ball no smaller than a baseball is flying towards you. Knowing that you only have a helmet, chest pad, gloves, and a stick with a net on it, would you stop it or would you get out of the way? The feeling of hot rubber scrapes your legs as you try to stop it, and it burns. Are you able to picture being in that position?

I started my lacrosse career in my 8th grade year at Ojai Valley School. Since then, I have fallen in love with the sport. At the beginning, I was introduced to the goalie position when some of my friends encouraged me to try it out and see if I liked it.

I had no idea that the position I was about to take was one that is high risk and requires a tough mentality. It was tough start to a new sport that I had never even heard of and had never even seen. My coach saw my potential in the position as well as my teammates and friends. With their encouragement, I continued and persevered. I played throughout middle school, and continued playing at the high school level.

There were not a lot of injuries during my 8th grade year, but playing at the high school level, I have suffered injuries to my knees, ears, and more. I have realized the sacrifices I have to make in order for my team to win and for me to be a successful goalie. Now I am a senior in high school and a team captain. After multiple losses and meltdowns in past seasons, I finally realize and understand what it takes for a person to be successful in a position as tough as lacrosse goalie.

So, are you tough enough to try the position out?

American Football Meets Crumpets

October 25 marked the thirteenth NFL game in London’s Wembley stadium since 2007. The less than disappointing bout between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars was witnessed by over 84,000 cheering Brits.

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I hope that they know they are cheering for the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars…

Regardless of what low echelon team plays in Wembley, the soccer loving British will always find a way to fill the seats.

They have managed to hold two sell-out games in two weeks. The Bills versus Jags, and the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Detroit Lions.

In the 2015 season there are three scheduled games in London, next year league officials have told London fans that there are to be four.

This growing popularity in pigskin slinging in London has encouraged London officials to encourage a permanent team in England.

The most popular NFL team in London are the Jacksonville Jaguars – yeah I know.

NFL representatives are optimistic that a team could be moved to the crumpet-munchers around 2022.