Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. – J.K. Rowling
For the record, we are not talking about having nerves of steel that make you stupid. This is not some encouragement to go take a 2’3″ Hunter out and try to jump them over some Prelim/Intermediate cross-country jumps. There is a difference between having nerve and being stupid. Don’t cross that line mistaking one for the other. Riding is dangerous enough without flaunting stupidity around (and thank goodness I don’t know many that do that).
I’ve had my stupid moments, being young(er) and less afraid to fall I often find myself playfully exploring my boundaries. Often what stops me is the sense of preserving my horse. If I think Bella (or whatever horse I’m riding) will get injured doing it, we don’t do it. But this doesn’t change the fact that I am comfortable having the nerve to push myself, and her, to improve and move forward. If I didn’t have nerve I wouldn’t own her, or be able to ride her, or be able to jump 3’6″ and feel completely comfortable doing so.
The nerves of (not quite steel) started when I was young. I had the nerve to pursue riding in the first place. Because it was such an expensive hobby it was not my mother’s first choice for me (in fact she pushed me to try softball, soccer, and basketball before I even got to seriously take lessons). She removed me from lessons because I sprained my ankle and rode anyways (sou9nd like a true equestrian?), then when I found a working student position she didn’t want to drive me out there… Thankfully my aunt and uncle have supported me throughout my life.
With the help of my aunt and uncle I was able to hold the working student position until my (undiagnosed) anxiety became too much and I had to quit. That was three years before I would purchase Bella and until I purchased Bella I was unable to ride. Three years without horses, three years of being miserable. I had the nerve to purchase an un-started two year old. I had the nerve to decide I would find a way to make things work for me.
I have had the nerve to do things my way, on my own, and fight to improve. I didn’t
have the money for lessons but I had the nerve to keep pushing myself to improve. Were there those that talked shit about me? Absolutely. Did I allow those people to discourage me? Yep. But only temporarily. Because I had the absolute nerve to think that I could somehow manage to do this. I’m not done doing this either. I have given up at times, I have been heartbroken, trampled on, shut-down, turned away, spoken down to, talked badly about, and anything else you can think of.
I didn’t come into the equestrian world with money, I came in with ambition. I may not ever compete in a Grand Prix, or even a rated show, but I will not stop having the nerve to push myself to improve. I won’t give up on something I have spent my entire life fighting for and working towards. This isn’t a phase, this is something I need with every fiber of my being. I’ve got the nerve to fight against the “you must be rich” stereotype. You don’t have to be rolling in dough to ride, or to be good. You have to have the nerve to take the punches and punch right back. Never stop, never give up, never allow your nerve to be taken away from you.
I’ve fought too hard and too long to give up. Not now, not ever.