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Reality Hits Hard
By: Lila Gendal On January 06, 2012

                I have a degree in political science and philosophy. In college I loved taking any class that dealt with current events—whether it was international events, national events, or local events. I have always been very fascinated in what’s going on in this world we live in. This time of the year represents an interesting time if you are remotely into politics. The Presidential campaign period—that’s what I call it. Definitely a diverse bunch this year. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds, regarding the next Presidential election. I have fairly strong political views, probably due to my father’s extreme dedication to local politics. He has passed, but his views and opinions are definitely lingering.

            Every time I watch the news, or read the paper, I can’t help but think of my education. I went to St. Lawrence University from 2004 until 2006. I took a year off to ride with Denny Emerson and then I finished up my degree at the University of Vermont. It’s funny really. I never had a clear idea, or vision for a career. I always enjoyed school, but horses were constantly in the back of my head. I suppose I assumed I would graduate from college and if I just kept riding and competing something would happen. I thought eventually tons of horses and lessons would come my way. Unfortunately, this was never the case. My wakeup call was a memorable moment.

            Denny and I were on a hack last summer. We were chatting, like we normally do-competitions, horses, religion, the economy, landscapes, jokes, etc. One conversation ended and the next thing out of his mouth was something like this, ‘so…when do you think you’ll stop waitressing and get a real job? You know you can’t just keep riding every day and not have a future plan…you know that right?’ I swallowed and thought to myself, do I burst into tears right now, or do I suck it up and come back with a sharp remark? ‘Well….I’m completely afraid of the possibility that a real job will not allow for any riding time,’ I said nervously-voice probably cracking. ‘Well, that’s just NOT true,’ he said. ‘I made it happen…I was an English teacher and still rode…and I was in real-estate and I still rode…you just make it happen if you want it badly enough.’

            I am not sure if we spoke for the rest of the hack. I was digesting what he had just discussed with me. I knew in the back of my mind that he was right and this was real…but I never thought anyone would say this to me-especially Denny Emerson.

            It took some time and some serious filling out of paperwork, but I found a job. I now am the head of Sales for Smith and Kraus Publishing. I never thought I would be working in publishing…but you take what you can get when the economy’s in a slump. I work from home, which is unbelievably amazing, because I have loads of time to ride and work with my horses. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to ride, work from home, and still be a part of Tamarack Hill Farm.

            After I finally found a real job I couldn’t help but think of Denny’s book, How Good Riders Get Good, specifically the part that talks about, ‘ride to work, or work to ride?’ Well, I always was under the silly assumption that I would ride to work…didn’t happen. Or at least it hasn’t made me enough earnings to survive. I do make some money riding, though not enough to live off of. I have to work to ride. It’s plain and simple. Its reality and it’s what had to happen in order to keep my passion alive.   

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  Reality Hits Hard
Thank you for sharing this brave and honest piece. 
By: Dia Jenks , On January 07, 2012
  Lila- there are a lot of us who work to ride out there. And we totally understand what you are feeling.
By: CMOH O'Hara , On January 15, 2012
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