No Regrets

By Lizzy Koons, AQHYA Region 5 Director, Pennsylvania
August 21, 2012

Lizzy Koons Region 5

Lizzy Koons AQHYA Regions 5 Director from Pennsylvania

“So you like racehorses, right?” 

    This is one question that we have all been asked by our friends. When you explain to your friend that you competitively ride horses, very few understand what this entails. 

    It is commonly assumed that we go full speed galloping while racing our opponents to the finish line, like seen in movies. Once you tell them that you are not the modern day Willie Shoemaker, they then assume you sit on your pony in your backyard and bounce around until your parents call you in for supper. What they do not realize is that you sacrifice everything the “typical” teenager has, purely because you have a love for the sport.

    We spend our lives living out of suitcases, missing high school friends’ birthday parties, not being able to be a part of other sports teams and being at the All American Quarter Horse Congress during your homecoming, yet we would not trade the life we live for anything. Some would say we do not get the full high school experience because we do not get to participate in certain events. What they do not understand is we are getting an experience that is like no other; one that’s filled with showing your beloved horse, meeting people from around the country and making friends that will last a lifetime. 

    As summer approaches, our riding and showing schedule goes non-stop. If we are not spending every weekend on the road, we are preparing ourselves for another show. Summer is also the time where your school friends want to get together, go to the beach, stay up until 2 a.m. and sleep in until noon. Your friends always want to hang out over the summer, and get frustrated when you tell them that you’re away at another horse show. They do not understand why you give up the “normal” teenage life just to go to horse shows. It gets frustrating when you cannot participate in some of the same events as your friends. 

    Every avid rider and competitor started with just having a love for horses in general that grew significantly over time. Yes, we may not get to sleep in until noon, we miss some school events and we have very little free time. It may be true that we do not get the typical high school experience. However, we are living a life that not many others will get to ever live. We get to travel the country and see places most people will only see in pictures. We get to have best friends that live 1,000 miles away, but you still manage to be exceedingly close with just because you share that one common bond.  And most importantly, we get to be a part of AQHYA, the largest single-breed youth association in the world.
We may miss out on some things, but there are so many things to make up for it. The friendship and memories you make will last a lifetime. The thing that makes riding, showing and AQHYA so special is the friends you make through those three activities know exactly what it is like to not be the “average” teenager. We all share one special bond that brings us together and gives us something in common. 

     People that think we are missing out on so much – by spending so much time riding and showing – have never experienced our lives. We still have a great time no matter where we go, and still get to live a great life. The life of an AQHYA teenager is something that I would not trade for anything, and I am sure many would agree with me. There is no question that I would rather spend a lifetime in an AQHYA teen’s boots than a day in typical teenager’s flip flops.