I always appreciate a challenge. I love the hard work, the lessons learned, and the sweetness of any tiny victories along the way. So when my trainer Julie Ann Wroble suggested I’m A Holiday, a high-powered, young mare who had only ever been shown in Three-Gaited Park, as my next equitation partner, despite the fact she would be brand new to the division, I was completely on board.
I knew the road ahead of us was was not always going to be a smooth one, but the excitement of a new adventure pushed aside my doubts.
We started in early February of 2017. Holiday was a dream come true right from the start, for both Julie and me. Within a few weeks, she had warmed up to everyone at Country Meadow and her big heart, her desire to please and to work, and her intelligence came shining through. I loved her immediately. She was more horse than anything I’d ever ridden before, but instead of being intimidated by her power, I pushed myself to rise to the occasion and revel in the delight that riding her brought me.
Nevertheless, Holiday was green. There were fundamentals to patterns she had never been asked to execute before. She had never had to stand in a line up for extended periods of time. She had never had to leave a line up for a pattern. She had never had a teenage girl on her back. The list went on. There were plenty of moments of frustration and confusion, for both Holiday and myself, but the love and support that surrounded us never failed to wash it away, and we always started fresh the next day.
I have to give a lot of credit to Julie. She never once doubted us, and her uplifting attitude reminded me every day that we could succeed. We celebrated every small victory together, and her belief in my ability, as well as in Holiday’s, gave my parents the occasional reassurance they needed and bolstered my determination to continue.
Within a few months, Holiday and I had become more cemented as a team. She was beginning to love workouts, and I was figuring her out more and more each week, for example, how to best smooth out her Park horse canter to more of an equitation horse canter. After World’s, the rest of our season in Park blurred into winter, and months of circles, lead changes, and dropped stirrup work later, Holiday is blossoming into a beautiful, trimmed equitation horse. Although we are both still learning, the progress we made in a year still amazes me.
I think the two most important lessons I learned throughout the continuous process of equitating Holiday were patience and the importance of positive thinking. Not every day was filled with clean patterns and smooth canters. I frequently had to remind myself that Holiday and I were both still learning, and that we had the potential to succeed. Keeping a smile on my face, and seeing one on those who supported me through the trials of equitating a Park mare was not always easy. However looking back now, I realize how the positivity surrounding Holiday and me helped us, and continues to help us, strive to reach our goals.
As we get closer to Louisville and finals season, my goal for Holiday and me is simply to give it our all. Knowing that we tried our hardest, not just in the moment but for the past year and a half, will make, and has already made, my final season as a junior exhibitor one I will cherish for many, many years to come. And what's not to love about that?