…goes a long way. Young rider blogger McKenna Oxenden takes stock of where the past two years have taken her–and it wasn’t where she expected.
I started blogging for Horse Nation on February 2, 2012. I was a sophomore in high school, 15 years old, and horse crazy. Today, I am six months away from being 18 years old, in four months I will be a high school graduate, and in seven months I will (hopefully) be a college student. How did I get here?!
If someone had asked me where I would be now, in a perfect world, I would have already served as a member of the Area II NAJYRC team. I would solidly be running prelim, looking for intermediate and probably doing online school and working for an upper level event rider. I would be one of the top leading young riders in the country.
Needless to say, I’m not really doing any of those things. And to be honest, I’ve really only hit one of those goals thus far that was listed. A lot has happened between the almost two years of my weekly column. When this all started, I was a girl lost in my dreams. This isn’t to say I’m still not a dream crazed girl, but I guess one could say I am slightly more realistic. Over the past two years I’ve been challenged time and time again, making me mature and become wiser, more aware.
Within this injury year, I’ve had a surplus of people sit me down and try and convince me out of riding. It seemed like every time I turned around, someone was just waiting, ready to pounce on me and bring me down. These people range from my loved ones, strangers, friends, foes, and doctors. Their words would echo around in my brain, haunting me. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was being talked about behind my back because why on earth would someone risk themselves like this?
To me, to us, the answer is simple: it’s what keeps us sane. What keeps us going day after day after day. What gives us drive, determination, and passion. It’s what makes us who we are. We all understand every time our foot steps into the iron what risk we are taking, but we know it, accept it, and don’t need to be reminded of it every darn day. The fact of the matter is, every time someone crosses the street do they find themselves pondering the risks of getting hit by a car? The answer is no.
We have to live life. You can’t live like something could go wrong, constantly questioning your motives because “What if…..” that is not living, that is fear. As equestrians, we understand this better than anyone.
It’s those around us who make us wiser. And it’s those competitions, falls, failing moments, tough lessons, and moments of victory that feed our drive. It’s the tough lessons in life that set our standards. Little McKenna a few years ago would have been so disappointed looking into the future, seeing she wasn’t this renowned young rider. The McKenna today realizes credentials don’t make it all for lack of other words. No, I’m not featured on the 18 & Under Training List, but I am a darn good rider. Just because I’m not an upper level rider doesn’t define anything. The experiences I have had are priceless and potentially taught me more than an upper-level horse ever could have or will.
Like I said, I’ve grown up a little. Fortunately for us, time is not of the essence. I have the rest of my life to make my eventing passion as large as I want. So Horse Nation, carpe diem—because you never know what kind of adventure is lying on the other side.
McKenna Oxenden is a 17-year-old senior in high school, hailing from Columbia, MD. McKenna is a training level event rider and is currently campaigning the 15.1 Trakhener Cross, “Gossip Girl” a.k.a. Gigi and previously competed 13.2 pony superstar, Dorito Cooler Ranch, through training level. She has worked for CCI4* event rider, Emily Beshear and currently trains with Courtney Sendak of Defying Gravity Eventing. She is looking towards attending college in the fall pursing a career in the Communications/Journalism field. Additionally, she is also an active ambassador to JustWorld International. When McKenna isn’t busy writing or riding, she is taking photographs and playing in Photoshop. You can see some of her work by liking her Facebook page (Mckenna Erinn Photography).
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