HN Blogger Contest, Round Two: Where Have All the Horse Girls Gone?

“But deep down, that horse crazy girl is still inside. Living vicariously through others. Those of us blessed with our horses’ breath upon us each day should stand a bit straighter, hold our heads higher and carry her with us.” Read the rest of Sophia McKee’s Round Two entry!

Our five finalists in the 2018 HN Blogger Contest are back with their Round Two submissions! For this round, we asked each of our finalists a question: “How do you think horseback riding and equestrian activities can best appeal to the mainstream population?” We’ll be sharing their responses this week — and we want to know what you think as a reader! Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Fact. Horse crazy girls will always exist.

They are everywhere. Burning everyone around them with the flame of their enthusiasm.

Stomping impatiently in line at the pony rides at the local fair, carefully choosing between the pony with the pink saddle pad or the blue one.

Diligently evaluating each polished, shining mount on the carousel.

Executing flying lead changes around the school yard.

Practicing their nicker with the swayback horse in the field at the bus stop.

Torturing Santa Claus with the same ask year after year, “Can I have a pony?”

My little ponies, Stablemates, Breyers, maybe if she’s lucky, even a real pony show up under the tree.

Her summer reading list is Misty of Chincoteague, The Black Stallion, Thoroughbred Series. She can tell you every color of horse you never knew existed.

She can’t tell you what day of the week it is but knows it’s the First Saturday of May.

But where has that horse crazy little girl gone as an adult?

When the innocence of youth is replaced by the responsibilities of adulthood. A small light begins to fade. The flames flicker and slowly die.

Perhaps she discovered boys and the posters of Arabians were replaced with Justin Bieber. Saturday shows were replaced by Saturday night parties.

In college the stress of classes, social acceptance and social injustice begin to edge out remembering to watch Rolex. Chem class in particular has got her goat.

And a job! What about a career? And all that money is going to pay off the student debt. But she’s a working woman, in control of her destiny. Yet her destiny seems to control her.

Perhaps now it’s 2 am, she is covered in baby vomit, hair a mess, running on 2 hours of sleep.

At the office holiday party the topic of horses comes up. “I used to love to ride,” she says wistfully, absently swirling the ice in her glass, as she looks right through you into a long lost memory.

Perhaps she’s sitting at home ignoring her arguing teenagers and the badgering husband while browsing Horse Nation. Giggling secretly at ‘Oh Crap Monday’.

Sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams. Responsibility takes over rainbows and ponies. But deep down, that horse crazy girl is still inside. Living vicariously through others. Those of us blessed with our horses’ breath upon us each day should stand a bit straighter, hold our heads higher and carry her with us. Because even if she can’t join us, she jumps with us in spirit, pumps her fist in victory crossing the finish line and cheers us silently from the sidelines for the life she wished to live.

And we remember… embers burn hotter than flame. Be free little girl.

My niece Cody on my old Arab mare Jersey. Photo by Sophia McKee.

Horseback riding and equestrian activities are already appealing. The very beauty and nature of the horse make it so without us doing a single thing. The horse sells itself. But in order to expand its reach at a time when the population is becoming increasingly urbanized and has moved further than ever away from the rural roots where horses once thrived, we must start by making it more accessible. And the responsibility for that accessibility falls squarely with those of us that are blessed with access to these wonderful animals.

It is our role to build bridges to our little piece of heaven that is time spent in the presence of a horse. To give of ourselves to the level the horse gives to us. And to conduct ourselves in a manner of kindness and respect to our animals that makes us worthy of public trust in our endeavors. That we always put the health and care of our equine partner first and foremost before blue ribbons and trophies.

Mentor programs, internships, scholarships for disadvantaged youth, adult only camps, beginner lessons for adults, racing syndicates. The possibilities are endless.

And for those that can’t make it to the barn but that ride the couch with gusto, blogs, social media and videos are all a means to inspire those with dreams but no access.

And in the end, the horse will do the rest.

Be Free. Go Riding.

About Sophia McKee:

My nickname in school was “horselady.” If I’m not mistaken, it was printed in an unflattering manner straight across the back of my cross country shorts in high school. I love horses. That’s me in a nutshell, and it’s gotten me to everywhere I’ve ever gone! It led me to be a more patient and gentle person, it led me to my soul mate, helped me recover from losing my soul mate (via divorce, he’s not dead), and it led me to adventure…on horses…around the world.

I’m fiercely loyal, don’t believe in horoscopes, and I’m always seeking something more in my life. My favorite color is green. I’m short, but without a complex. I always wanted to be a jockey and when that didn’t happen I married one. Then divorced one.

I learned to ride by what my horses taught me. I wasn’t much for formal lessons simply because I couldn’t afford them. I ran away from home when I was a teenager – on horseback, for all of three hours (I got hungry, so I came home).

I seek out the most extreme adventure riding on horseback around the world:

  • Mongol Derby 2011
  • Fauresmith – South Africa’s National Endurance Championships
  • Lesotho Rescue Ride
  • Alberta Cattle Drive
  • Patagonia Ride
  • South Africa Wild Coast Ride
  • Tsaatan Reindeer Ride

Hoping to ignite the fire of adventure in others and find out how far we all can really go.

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