It sounds really simple, but one my favorite parts of my job is getting to meet other people who love horses as much as I do and who are able to talk about their stories as to how horses have helped them or been a meaningful part of their lives.
About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet seven girls who are a part of the Gleneayre Equestrian Program, which is a work-to-ride and equine facilitated learning program based out of Lumberton, New Jersey. They were visiting WEF and Wellington for five days and the trip’s purpose was to help them explore different ways they can be involved in the equestrian industry as well as meet several renowned riders who have established careers for themselves by riding, grooming, training, and more.
As part of my job, I was lucky enough to get to shadow them and document their visit through photos. Their trip included volunteering at the county Special Olympics, visiting with Beezie Madden and her horses at her barn, observing an equitation lesson with Stacia Madden, walking the 5* Grand Prix course with Beezie Madden (and then watching it afterward), hanging out with George Morris, and more. As they did each of these activities, I tried to make sure I hung to the back and stayed out of the way since this was all about them, but inside I was actually freaking out with excitement to get to be there with them too. I would classify it as a dream day for any horse lover. I was so happy and moved to watch them experience each of these events after what has been a lot of hard work and persistence to get to this point in their program.
Besides getting to follow the girls around throughout the weekend, I enjoyed talking with them about careers in the industry, some of which are not typically thought of because they’re out of the typical realm of riding, training, etc. I’m at times a little bit shy, so I don’t always bring up my blog or Instagram right away, but several of them connected the dots when I first introduced myself and I was so humbled to hear that they had been following me, and here I was getting to meet them in person by chance. They were all so articulate, positive and smart, and it was the perfect reminder of one of the reasons that I love my job – getting to meet motivated people like them and encourage them to stay involved with horses if that’s what you love, no matter what, and a career can follow – that career might not even have a name yet. I don’t think what I do now existed a couple of years ago, and it wasn’t what I studied or pursed in college (or the three years afterward) either.
When I had first returned to WEF last year as a spectator still working a “real” job in e-commerce, I watched the riders in the ring and thought to myself that riding and showing and being at horse shows was just a part of my life that was over, a chapter that had been completed. At the time I didn’t see how I would ever have the means to able to be involved with horses in a big way again, definitely not like I had been when I got to ride and show as a junior. It didn’t seem possible now in my mid-twenties and out of college with student loans, an apartment and other responsibilties, and a 26 year old horse who I had made the decision to send to a retirement farm.
So I found a new way to enjoy being at the horse show, because I still loved horses and how they made me feel and how they brought me back to one of the happiest times in my life when I was riding and showing and spending time with family. So during WEF 2015, I started my Instagram account and blog and now here I am during WEF 2016, getting to be around horses every day for my career, and the idea of being able to show and have a horse again in the future doesn’t seem so crazy anymore (except when I’m really tired or hungry, then it still seems impossible). You never know. Enjoy the present for what you have now, work hard, talk to as many people as possible (even if you’re sometimes shy, like I am), and believe that you will find a way.
I was sitting here typing these thoughts tonight, on my bed with my laptop propped up against my knees, when I visited the Gleneayre website and discovered a shout-out that means the world to me:
“Throughout the trip, we were shadowed by Meg Banks from the Social Media and Marketing department of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC. Meg made a name for herself in this industry after traveling to the Winter Equestrian Festival and starting her own blog. A self-starter who launched her career out of a passion for horses, Meg passed her advice to our girls that their goals are within their reach.”
And yet getting to be a part of something as simple as this trip, talking to girls who may have doubts at some point just like I did (and do), is what keeps me going in this industry and makes me feel like my own goals are within reach. My new career has been part of a dream come true, and the crazy thing that happens when you feel like a part of your dream has come true – you start dreaming even bigger, working even harder, and believing in even more things that you used to think were impossible.
A few days after the girls returned to New Jersey from their trip, a co-worker let me know that a stack of envelopes was waiting for me in the office. I received a hand-written thank you note from each of them, so to Nicole, Marielle, Izzy, Kate, Emily, Danielle, and Kirsten… Thank YOU! I saved all of your notes. You inspired me, reminded me yet again what I love about horses and our industry, and it was amazing to meet each one of you.