I'm going to USDF's convention, which is conveniently less than a half of a mile from my house, to pick up my Silver Medal, and to USEA/Area 8 to meet up with friends, coworkers and watch Anna Kate pick up her ribbons for the season. All on the same day, within three hours of each other.
Aside from one busy day, the time is also well spent on conducting business and setting the tone for 2014. It's one part social, two parts financial planning for my team and a whole lot of fun in between.
Convention is also the underlying reminder of what ribbons really cost.
For every title, ribbon, trophy and award handed out, there are thousands of hours, dollars and opportunities spent for a brief, very fleeting, moment in time.
While I'm thrilled to have earned my Silver, I'm reminded of the miles traveled with the pony, the struggles of a first year at FEI, the permanent hatred I have for fourth level, the clinics attended and hosted and the time away from home while I collect it and celebrate the newest lifetime achievement.
Everything has a price, and horses, are no different. I'm very proud of what we have accomplished and no one can take that away. But occasionally, I hear the peanut gallery's voices singing clearly that it's not fair, and you've just have had better opportunities.
I can easily say life isn't fair.
But better opportunities? I made those with sweat equity.
A recent post on Facebook reminded me how concerning the future generation of horsemen are going to be if they aren't clever enough or hungry enough to find ways to, as Tim Gunn would say, "Make it Work".
We aren't all blessed with bank accounts and silver spoons. Many of us grew up in suburbs and with parents that could barely tell the difference between a snaffle and spur (but were lucky that they didn't say no to doing crazy things), but in the end, the dollars didn't prevent us, we just made it work.
It's disappointing to say the least that many insert-your-age-here somethings would rather lament instead of going forward, asking questions and give a little to get a leg up, then complain at the suggestion that they go work and earn their place at the table.
Go and volunteer, go ask organizers if they need a hand for anything (the answer is usually a relieved yes), start covering events for your local equestrian magazine, attend class, go to shows and watch, scribe, run, put on events, network, DO STUFF. Change begins with the individual, and to be have a say in it, you need to step outside and do something.
There is nothing preventing you in this world to going out and going after opportunities. There will be times where people will say no, there will be times where you (and many others) question everything you do, the quality you have; there will be times where that plateau for training and riding stretches out longer than a country mile. But, if you don't keep going, you stop being apart of what you want.
So, question is then, how bad do you want it?