In the equestrian world, there always seems to be a divide between those that ride English and those that ride Western.
“Come to the dark side” is often used when one side talks about the other. Which one is really the dark side? Well first let me start off with my story.
I grew up on a ranch. I was a true country kid stuck in the middle of nowhere Massachusetts. I would travel all around to barrel race, breakaway rope, pole bend, and goat tie. On the way to Pond Hill Pro Rodeo every single Saturday summer night, I would pass the Vermont Summer Festival and stare out the window at the big, colorful jumps. Country music blaring, my face would
be pressed against the truck window, eager to jump out and watch the huge horses do something other than what I was used to. Immediately I knew that I wanted to be there. I had secretly known all my life that I really wanted to be riding English; I just had never had the opportunity. Finally something pushed me to try. I decided to pursue a slightly different, undiscovered passion.
I began to go to the barn every chance that I could to lesson, or just to watch the other riders. I quickly became a dedicated barn rat to say the least. Within the first year of showing I moved up from Long Stirrup all the way to Children’s Equitation. In the local shows I would compete in the Equitation and Hunters, however at away shows it was all Jumpers. It was like taking my old world of tight turns and fast speed, and bringing it into my new world… now with those colorful jumps I had always stared at in the way.
As long as I was in the ring and competing, I was happy.
So here I am today, having just finished my second year of showing. This year brought more accomplishments than I could’ve ever imagined. I still bring my Western background with me wherever I go; it gives me a sort of “edge”. My successes have come from my drive to win, and my drive to improve. So, pondering the question “which discipline really is the dark side?” The answer is simply: neither. There is knowledge to be soaked up from both disciplines, but what really makes a rider good is pure determination. It’s a state of mind, it’s positive attitude and it’s a lifestyle.