Growing up horseback riding at my family’s ranch in Larkspur, Colorado, I learned a great deal about myself and the world, including a few valuable lessons about dedication and hard work.
First, horseback riding taught me the importance of finding challenging and satisfying work. Throughout my riding career, while competitions offered a great sense of accomplishment, most of the hard work for those successes takes place behind the scenes. The day to day grind where no one cheers for small victories (or barnyard cleanup) gives a sense of pride and accomplishment when one has enough dedication and love for what they do to feel encouraged and gratified. Hard work can lead to glory, but it is an insignificant benefit on the path to accomplishing a goal.
A second lesson I learned from horseback riding is understanding how to motivate and work with a team, taking into account others’ needs and wellbeing. Though it may not appear so on the surface, show jumping is an effort that includes trainers, riders—and most importantly--the horse. The key with all these members is communication: horseback riding requires specific communication with the horse through body language in order to achieve goals safely and with showmanship. Your success depends on that of the team, and as a leader it is your personal responsibility to ensure that everything is completed on the same page, a common approach of El Pomar Foundation. Like riding, during the Internship I’ve witnessed how essential it is to communicate in order to move a team forward and make the biggest impact on those in need in Colorado. This is a beautiful state, and without El Pomar many would be in still greater need.
Another critical lesson is that life, like horseback riding, can be fairly dangerous if you are not present and focused on the task at hand. You don’t have to ride every single day to be an adequate rider, but full engagement and focus while practicing is essential. When facing an entire course of jumps, the most important thing in any single moment is the next jump. You must prepare for that jump in order to safely and successfully clear it before worrying about the other jumps ahead. If each jump is completed successfully, the long term goal of completing the entire course will be realized. I like to believe that the same is true in life. Slowing down and focusing on one challenge at a time will lead to accomplishing something larger. Every day I arrive at the Penrose House ready to accomplish the tasks of the day with the knowledge that eventually each day will lead to completion of the entire internship and the acquisition of skills which will result in making a difference in many people’s lives. The thing that matters the most at the moment, however, is the single day that I complete at the Penrose House working to the best of my ability. The larger picture will begin to develop on its own.
As I slowly find my way through life I hope to carry the lessons I learned from horseback riding and the El Pomar Internship with me. Working at the Penrose House has given me an opportunity to apply my skills in a way that makes a real impact on my community and refines my skills one hurdle at a time. My experiences in this internship will help me to better understand my place on teams, as a leader, and in the world.