I’ve had Chloe, my mare, for almost a decade. When I bought her, I was her 7th owner in a period of 8 years, and it took a lot of time for me to convince her that I was in it for the long haul. She didn’t make it easy, and needless to say, we’ve been through a lot. I have never been a quitter, but I would be lying if I say I didn’t at one time entertain the idea of selling her. I also distinctly remember asking my trainer at the time (widely known as the horse-whisperer in my area) how long it would take for Chloe to be the way “I wanted her to be” riding-wise. Never will I forget her response because it felt like someone knocked the air out of my lungs, “My estimate is three years”, she said matter of factly. I will always be so grateful to Chloe for that time period in my life. The tears and trials were so worth it and she taught me so much about myself in the process. Looking back, I think it was the best three years of my life.
Showing Chloe was definitely a team experience. Despite her feigned aloofness, we have such a bond. It always felt like we both knew stepping into the show ring was the final payoff for all our hard work. I must say, that for all Chloe’s silly antics, she would show up for me when it counted. It’s hard for me to not look back on that time period without feeling sadness that it is over. Although I guess I shouldn’t say it is over, it is just different.
When I got pregnant with my son, Tanner, in 2013, I continued to ride, but showing was off the table so my riding was very different. I stopped taking weekly lessons and would often just hack around. For the first time in years, I suddenly had no riding goals, no big show to prep for. When I had Tanner in the Summer of 2014, and after things settled down at home with a new baby, I suddenly went from riding Chloe 5 times a week to maybe seeing Chloe every two weeks. It killed me. Fast forward 4 years and a second child (my daughter, Logan) later, and things have definitely gotten better. I am in more of a routine, I am able to see Chloe about twice a week and I even competed in my first show (since kids) last May. Granted I jumped a whole foot lower than I did before, had some hideous moments and went slower than I wanted to, but at least I got to show her again. Chloe may be 18 years old now, but she still had it. She still showed up for me.
Everyone said that having kids would mean your life would drastically change. They were not lying. I think the hardest part is not losing who you were in all the chaos. I definitely struggle still with wanting to have riding goals and devoting more time to Chloe, but at this point, it just isn’t practical and I have to find a way to be satisfied with what I can do. I can ride Chloe weekly. I can take lessons. I can give myself goals, even if the goals are not as big as they once were. I might not be able to commit the time to showing consistently, but I think I will get there again one day. It might not be with Chloe, but I know that because of all that she has taught me, my best self will show up.
**Andrea Wise graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2007, where afterwards she spent 7 years as a commercial real-estate attorney. In 2012, she launched the equestrian company, Pony Glam, which makes and sells the only colored hoof dressing for horses. She is also the voice behind the new equestrian lifestyle blog, Horse Glam. Andrea lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Zach, two young children, cat and horse, Chloe.