This whole blogging thing has really been an exploration for me in what life as an adult amateur looks like. As such, I thought it was high time I wrote the ammy manifesto for myself and other mature riders to rally behind. We're here. We're real. We're the backbone of the sport and we're not going to be dismissed by the 1% of professionals who think they don't need us to survive.
1) I am here to have fun.
First and foremost, this is the biggest difference between ammies and pros. A professional rider by definition is in horses for the money. That means they have to ride through the tantrums, swing a leg over the difficult ones, and deal with everything life throws at them.
As an amateur, I have to do all those things in the rest of my life. I don't ride horses for the glory. I ride for the freedom, the connection, the challenge, the puzzle, the fun, the people, whatever it is that's personal to me. If my horse scares me, I will get off. If my lesson is too much, I will tell the instructor to back off. It's about having a good time.
I will put myself in situations that set myself and my horse up for success. I am not ashamed to admit I need a pro ride or a new horse if things aren't working out.
2) I will take care of my horse my way.
Just because I'm not George Morris doesn't mean I can't make decisions. I make decisions about much more important things all day at home and at work. When I get to the barn, if I think Pookiekins needs to always only ever eat Trix Cereal and wear sparkle bell boots and have her poo dusted with glitter, I will make no apologies.
I will take care of my horse in the way I see fit and not worry that my colors match too much, don't match at all, or are 30 years out of date. Whether it's barefoot hoofcare, bareback riding, rocking all the gadgets, or spending all my time trail riding, I'm here to do my thing. And that's ok.
3) I want to be the best horseperson I can be.
I'm ok with being me. I realize I'm not Andrew Nicholson. Odds are, I'm not a 6 foot tall man in impeccable physical shape with 50 years of experience in international competition.
And I'm still ok with being me.
I will strive to be the best I can be within my discipline. That doesn't mean I need to be in international competition or attend all the clinics or hit every single show. I will learn and grow and expand my mind and do my best. I understand that my best isn't necessarily equivalent to my friend's best, my trainer's best, or Andrew Nicholson's best.
And I'm ok with that.
4) I will set my own goals
I have to compete against limited pay checks, short time, familial relationships, real life problems, car payments, mortgages, and other really intimidating adversaries on a day to day basis. I want to be competent, even stunningly amazing on horseback (or at groundwork), but that is not my end game.
There is no shame in saying that my goals are to event.
Or to never event again.
Or to do the jumpers.
Or to hack at shows.
Or to top out at first level.
Or to have the nicest horse to handle on the ground at home.
My goals are my goals and I will pursue them with gusto and I will not accept derision for recognizing what I really want out of my horse life.
5) I will enjoy my success.
I'm never going to go to Rolex as a competitor and I'm 100% ok with that. If my goal was to score 52% at first level at a local school show, you bet your ASS I'm going to celebrate that 55 and change I got. Whether success to me is the world's most perfect tempi changes or getting my horse to stand still at the mounting block, I will enjoy the moments and revel in my accomplishments.
I will define what my own version of success looks like. I won't beat myself up if it looks different than someone else's version. I acknowledge that comparing myself to someone richer/thinner/prettier/stronger/more experienced/smarter/otherwise qualified will only make me miserable.
I can be miserable all on my own. I didn't get into horses for more of that.
There are way too many hard things about real life to try and do this in a vacuum. Whether it's an adoptive barn family, a supportive SO, or an online group, I will find people to support me and listen and help along the way.
Life is too short for mean, overly competitive, or small minded people. I don't need to be yelled at, brow beaten, or otherwise dehumanized by the team I keep around me.
There are lots of great people out there and I am one of them.
I am an adult amateur rider.
All this to say, Ammy Hour is coming back starting next week! Look for interviews of your favorite ammy rider/bloggers with tips on making life work and keeping things fun!