Most high school athletes keep old uniforms, trophies, and photographs, things that can be stored in boxes, left in basements. When equestrians stop showing, we’re left with a horse. Like my 17-year-old, roan-spotted Appaloosa mare, Willow. And the velvet helmet I got for my 13th birthday, the Ariat tall boots that pinched the back of my knees, the fake white tail from our trip to Tennessee for a regional show. I still have the board fee, vet bill, farrier fee, the price of grain and hay.
I’ve graduated from horse girl to horsewoman. I quit the hunter jumper circuit for a lot of reasons, though injury makes the top of the list. I tore the tendons in my right foot just before the equestrian team try-outs at Auburn University, then Willow foundered, damaging her front two hooves. Years later, after we’d both rehabilitated, I found I didn’t have the time or money to show as a young adult.