On this Kentucky Derby Day, I think back to the hundreds of hours I have spent on the back of a horse. I think of all the great horses I have had the ability to ride over my junior years and beyond. But there has never been a horse more special than Rowdy. Rowdy, sold to me by Anne Jennings at Pigeon Creek Farm, changed my life. During a time I was searching to find myself in a competitive environment at school, home, and in the times of becoming a teenager… it was this one horse that helped me define myself and focus. Rowdy was everything to me. He was a friend, someone that could be trusted, an outlet when I felt overwhelmed, and was always there to greet me whether I was walking into his stall or out to visit him in the paddock.
Rowdy and I would frequently share dried fruit loops cereal for breakfast, carrots for lunch, followed by Lifesaver peppermints as dessert. Rowdy even liked Cool Blue Gatorade and after hard workouts, we would share that too.
Rowdy was certainly not the fanciest of horses, nor was he always taking the win. But he would try his hardest at challenges presented to him. He was honest, fair, and persevered through all adversity. Some ask where I learned some of these traits. Little known fact that a 4 legged 1500 lb horse taught me most of them. We were always going up against the fanciest and most expensive horses in the sport. Many trainers remarked, “you deserve something to ride that is more competitive, you deserve a better horse”. I NEVER wanted one. I was perfectly happy with my best buddy, Rowdy.
I will never forget after a long day of showing at Trader Point Horse Show, I decided I needed to just chill out. I put on Rowdy’s bridle and decided to hop on bareback (without a saddle) and just go out and take a walk around the fox hunting grounds. Many stopped me in shock that I could just ride him bareback, many said, “you are crazy, what it he spooks and you fall off”. I kinda laughed and said, “he’s not like that, he wouldn’t do that”. It was true, he was as happy chilling out as I was. He was special. He was like an overgrown pony that just wanted to be appreciated for who he was. Looking back now, I get it.
As years went by, things changed. It became more important to others for me to take home blue ribbons. I was now in tougher competition and more was expected. Rowdy left and was replaced. My heart shattered and is still not repaired. Winning isn’t everything, it is NOT the only thing. Rowdy now lines the walls of my apartment, the memories I shared with this amazing thoroughbred will never ever be forgotten, and the lessons Rowdy taught me still guide my everyday decisions.
So ask me how I have overcome the adversity? It goes back to the lessons I was taught by a wonderful Thoroughbred named Rowdy and the times we shared showing throughout the US but more important were the times we would simply just head out for a ride and the moments we shared with each other.