Riding has always been a big part of my life. I realize that I would not be the person that I am today without all of the things that riding has taught me, and ultimately, all of the things that riding made me. While riding’s made me many things, the ones that resonate the most are more grateful, more resilient, and more driven.



Riding made me more grateful.

At age 16, after years and years of constant and tireless begging, I convinced my parents to help me buy my first horse. I owned him for a little over 3 years until a freak accident in the pasture took him away forever. He and I had been through a lot together, and he was my absolute best friend. So when he was taken so suddenly, my world was shattered and my head was filled with doubt. Had I rewarded him after our last ride? Did I give him that extra treat before I turned him out? Was I too hard on the both of us after a bad round in the jumping ring?

I couldn’t change any of my “lasts” with him, but I could learn from those feelings and apply them to the rest of my life. This taught me to work to see the best in any situation and always find something to be happy about. My mare and I knock a barrel at a big race? I give her a pat anyway because she still tried hard for me, and we’ll do better next time. I aim to always be thankful for the blessings in my life, especially the everyday little things that other people may miss.

Riding made me more resilient.

When I first started my mare on the barrel pattern, all I heard was how we would “never make it past the 3D” or how “barrels will just be too hard for your horse to excel at.” But I knew better. My horse loved her job and so did I, so I kept pushing on. Now, in only our second competitive season, we’re placing at rodeos and running in the 1D with some of the best of them! All because I didn’t let the naysayers determine what my horse and I could or could not do. The only person that limits me is me. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help, and not to be afraid to go above and beyond other people’s expectations for me. You’d be surprised what a little bit of stubbornness, hard work, and time will do for you and your horse.


Riding made me more driven.

Once I discovered my love for riding, nothing could stop me from doing it. Riding makes me feel complete, and I am always eager to keep building and improving my skills. I will never know everything there is to know about horseback riding, and I love that. I strive to always take away something new from every ride, and I try to attend as many lessons and clinics as I possibly can. There is no such thing as a rider that is too well-rounded. Everyone has something that they can teach me – the best thing I can do is listen.

When I feel like I need a new perspective, I take a lesson from someone in another discipline. If I’m contemplating skipping that long conditioning session I had planned for today, I remember that I might be taking a break today, but my competition won’t be. There is always something new to learn, and there is always a higher level to reach, but it’s up to me and me alone to push myself to keep improving.  I could go on forever about all of the things that riding has made me over the years and how much it has changed me, but when it comes down to it, I can sum everything up pretty simply: Riding made me more…and for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

-Alyssa Fleming