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I’ll always remember that drive; there was a crisp summer breeze sailing in through my window and the taste of early-morning dew still hung in the air. My heart was beating so fast, I could hardly hear my favorite song, “Sweet Caroline”, blasting on the radio. I rounded the corner onto my trainer’s barn property and there, standing in the morning light, was the most ravishing creature I had ever seen. The sun illuminated his dark brown coat; his elegance made him look as though he was not of this world. He was a beautiful four-year-old Warmblood pony, and he was all mine. My parents used to tell me that my best friend growing up was the demi-god, Percy Jackson, from my favorite book series. I didn’t even have to think about it: I would call him Perseus.
I was as content as could be; I had owned Percy for three months. I felt like I was on top of the world, but then my whole world shifted–literally. Before I could process what was happening, there was a sickening crack. For an instant, my world was black. When I regained consciousness, I was instantly greeted by big, brown, playful eyes peering down at me. My trainer was the next to appear in my line of vision. “What are we going to do with you Perseus,” she was no longer looking to me, but at my horse. I could feel the annihilation of confidence deep in my chest as I limped out of the arena; I wanted to sell what was supposed to be my dream horse.
That night, I decided to put up a for-sale ad. “Don’t let his small figure fool you! There is much more than meets the eye. Perseus is a four-year-old Warmblood gelding and ready to take you to the big leagues. My loss is your gain!” The bright screen burned my eyes, but it wasn’t the cause behind my tearstained cheeks. This moment of disappointment kicked off the start of a long journey for me. I was either going to find a way or make my own; my grandpa always told me perseverance is the secret behind every success. It would have been so easy for me to give up and buy a well-trained horse, but I realized in doing that, whenever I won in a show, I would be winning off of someone else’s hard work. That’s when I remembered, the reason I wanted a young horse was to experience the uphill battle that came with it, and so I fought for him.
I received countless offers from trainers and friends proposing they assist in my training process. I understand that it’s okay to ask for help, but sometimes I need to know that I can complete a task without relying on others. Nothing makes me work harder than competing against myself. In time, Perseus began to understand what I was asking of him. It was hard, but I made sure to never show any timidness. If you show a horse fear, you are giving him control. A horse is not a soccer ball that you can kick into submission, it is a living thing. Your best hope is to gain each other’s trust and work as a team.
After three more months of constant training, I decided to put our faith in each other to the test by entering in a local horse show. The odds were clearly stacked against us, but when the announcer declared spots, Perseus and I had placed third. I was beyond belief, sure it wasn’t first place, but life isn’t about winning, it’s about the journey. When it comes to horseback riding you can’t really lose, you either win or learn an important lesson, and I’d like to think school is the same way. Our progress had been exhausting and dangerous, but sometimes, you have to do something crazy to know you’re sane.
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