The Secret Life of McKenna: Define ‘equestrian’

What does it mean to be a rider? HN junior blogger McKenna Oxenden shares a creative writing paper she wrote on the subject.

From McKenna:

I have always had a niche for creative writing. Something about it has always sparked my interest. I guess it’s just a nice way for me to share my feelings, or what might be going on in my life. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was allowed to write what I want, without having to follow anyone else’s guidelines.

This year, I am taking a class called advanced composition and we basically just learn about different writing styles and examine different writers. Besides photography, it is my favorite class. As someone who has a hard time of getting up in the morning, it’s pretty hard to get me motivated for anything in the morning, let alone school. But this class drives me to school, and makes me want to go. It partially has to do with the fact that my teacher might be one of the best teachers on this earth, but I also believe it partially has to do with the fact that I love writing!

My second assignment for this year was to write a definition paper. We were to pick a word, and then write two to four pages about that word, without directly saying “the definition of dog is a four legged animal with fur.” Of course I picked the word equestrian!

So here it is, Horse Nation, the first “formal” piece of writing I think you all have seen from me. Let me know what you think of it–after all, all writers must be open to criticism and improvement is always achievable. AND this paper is out of 200 points. Do you think I will earn an A?!?!?!

Define ‘Equestrian’

By McKenna Oxenden

When the word equestrian is said, what comes to mind? Does the image of that girl in your class appear? Or maybe it is an unknown word. Perhaps, a smirk is swept across the face and the thoughts of “that is not a sport” races through the brain. When I hear the word equestrian, the vision of horse and rider appear, and a flood of images gallop through my mind.

Driven, passionate, hard worker—-just a few words that come to mind when equestrian is mentioned. Not many can say, when thrown from a thousand pound animal, they get back up, dust themselves off, and hop back on, and proceed to jump a four foot fence. Even less can say, they have the guts to jump a thousand pound animal at heights up to four feet, spreads of six feet, while sprinting at the speed of a mere thirty miles an hour.

Some might say it’s not a sport, some might question why it is in the Olympics, but when it’s thought out, how amazing is it that someone can have such a connection with such a powerful animal, that it can be made to do the unthinkable? These animals have their own minds, their own hearts, their own personalities, and no matter what you do to stop them, will always win. But isn’t it amazing that the majority of the time, they chose to partner with the rider, and succeed.

Equestrians tend to be the most dedicated personnel to their sport. It’s the norm, that when you are around the ages of sixteen to eighteen, you will seek your first equestrian based job. Generally, this involves packing bags up, and moving several hours away from the ones called friends and family, working from dawn until dusk, and working up the totem pole, to eventually make it to the top. Unfortunately, the longer spent in this sport, generally means higher skill level, versus in gymnastics where achieving greatness is standard at a young age, and generally after eighteen, the gymnast is capped out of their prime. It comes to benefit at times, but learning is never done—-a life-long search to become the wisest of the wise.

Every ride counts, miss one and it could make or break you. Sacrifice is the name of the game—shows every weekend, barn work every day, and don’t forget to account time for your show preparation involving bathing and braiding the horse, cleaning the saddle, bridle, and other objects needed for success, along with other small tasks including trimming whiskers and tails—the preparation endless, as the search for perfection continues.

A common imperfection in us is the search to be flawless, the failure to accept less than perfect, mediocre being out of the question. A minuscule detail can be wrong but we still heckle, because we are perfectionists. With each ride, we look for improvement, we seek to get better and seek the top. When we hear the national anthem we think of a gold medal hanging around our neck, and standing on a podium, on top of the world.

Many look down upon the horse group, spending money left and right, but on what? On stupid pets, on a sport that isn’t a sport? After all, the horse does all the work, right? Wrong. Riding is just as much of a sport as football, baseball, or soccer, if not harder. After all, take away the football team, and you still have a football player, but take away the horse, and you are left with a lost individual. Some may question the money spent, how much for boarding; Five hundred dollars, with working off extra—five hundred dollars, just for a place for a horse to live, oh how silly that seems. And how much is paid to give lessons? Sixty dollars—just for someone else to shout knowledge—-even more ridiculous.

The funny thing is if a comparison was made to how much is spent on club sports, the prices would end up being just about as equal. Yes, this sport is not cheap, but it’s what we love. It is what keeps us going around, what keeps us living and breathing, and most importantly, is what drives us to keep improving, without it, we wouldn’t be us.

When the word equestrian is said, what comes to mind? Does the “freak” who only thinks about horses still swirl around in the brain? Or is it now a vision of a passionate person, who loves their sport, who wants to make it to the top, and most of all, is just like everyone else in playing a sport? It’s not as easy as we make it look, blood, sweat, and tears, piled upon years of hard work. Equestrians—the ultimate hard workers.

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