Diary of a Working Student: For the love of the horse

Have you ever been so focused on a goal that you lost sight of the big picture? Amelia Bayer, a working student for top eventer Sinead Halpin, shares how she regained perspective.

From Amelia:

Somewhere behind the long hours of schooling, the dirt beneath your nails, the ribbons you didn’t win, the tears you’ve cried, and the horses you’ve given your heart to, is a little girl who fell in love with a horse and never looked back.”

Recently, I’ve had multiple reality checks. Being a working student, you get caught up in the horse world–you know more about what is happening at everyone else’s barns than you do about what is happening in Syria. Constantly being surrounded by the talent and knowledge that I am, it is really easy for me to become completely focused on my goals and where I see my equestrian career going in the future.

I love being part of the horse world. I love all the people I meet. But let’s be honest, it’s not the “real world.” I do not have a TV, but I do have a computer. My computer is the only outlet I have to this “real world.” But instead of reading stories on CNN, I find myself reading other blogs on EN or Horse Nation or the Chronicle. I love reading, I think it is one of the best ways you can learn. And even though Sinead and Meg have told me some of the things they write about in person, I still read it every time they post a new blog. I love learning about how people have moved up the levels in this sport, whether the road was long and hard or they had help from their coaches or they did it completely on their own.

What I didn’t realize is that in reading about everyone else’s roads, I was starting to lose track of where I had come from. I was focusing too much on where I was going, when all I needed to do was reflect on where I had been. Sometimes we need to take a step back and think about how we got to where we are. Whether those are good memories, bad memories, funny memories, life lessons, whatever!

Rail Roadie, aka Roadie, is a 4-year-old OTTB and is REALLY cool. We competed Beginner Novice at Flora Lea Horse Trials and were tied for sixth after dressage. We had two run-outs in stadium at the first two fences but after that we got in the grove and had a good course! We stopped twice at the water–it was so scary! Especially for a baby who has only seen it twice before! But I was super happy with him, and I had a fantastic time!


I love Oni, and I always have his best interest in mind. But before Oni became hurt, I found myself constantly planning and pushing myself to advance and become more competitive. I tried to think of different ways to get my name out there so people would know who I am and could put a name to a face. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just the way you have to make yourself known in this horse world. But Roadie has made me take a step back. I’ve stepped back down to BN with him and we are having a great time, even more than I expected. Riding Roadie now reminds me why I fell in love with some silly pony with weird bumps on his head named J.D. (later renamed Oni) that was in the last stall on the left.

Hours of schooling? You could say that. Dirt beneath my nails? I’m a working student! I have dirt everywhere! Ribbons I didn’t win? Plenty! Tears I’ve cried? My parents can testify to that one. Horses I’ve given my hearts to? Started with Moonshine at a one week western summer camp at my grandparent’s house, included countless horses by the names of Secret, Glory, Quinn, Squish, Callie, Scotty, Peepers, Forrest, Andy, Oni, and now Roadie to name a few. I fell in love with the horses, then the sport.

Goals are good. They keep us moving forward. But sometimes we need to take a step back and remember why we started this sport–it’s for the love of the horse.


Oni (5 years old) and me (15 years old) going Novice the first time in Florida!


Hugs for Roadie while talking to my mom!


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