Before eventing, the term Adult Amateur meant nothing to me.I didn’t feel I need to characterize myself as an adult. Or as an amateur. I was just someone who enjoyed participating in lots of different activities and didn’t consider myself to be a professional by any means.
But now, every year, I need to check a little box when registering with the USEA that states I am an amateur eventer, and that I am in no way a professional to whom people pay money to train them or their horses. I get placed in a category with thousands of other people just like me.
In being an amateur I will continue to have a job that I go to everyday and log 45-55 hrs a week. When I am tired/grumpy/overwhelmed after work, I will think to myself “Should I just go home? Or should I go to the barn?” And more often than not, I will go to the barn. Because I know that no matter how tired/grumpy/overwhelmed I am, I need to work on keeping my hands up and together. On keeping my thumbs on top of the reins. Bringing my shoulders back and down. And countless other things. And I need to go now, after work, or I will miss a day of working on it. No matter how badly I just want to go home and sit down and start drinking/eating/mindlessly watching television.
And then the weekend comes! My beloved days off where I can go to the barn and not feel rushed. But somehow, I still feel rushed. I can get all the things done I didn’t have the time or desire to do after my weekday rides. After spending time bathing/grooming/organizing my horse and gear, I realize I will barely have time to get to the grocery store, go for a hike, clean the chicken coop and maybe, just maybe, get some work done that I neglected during the week. And if I want to do something with non horsey friends that involves getting out of town, I feel the guilt of missing a day where I could have been at the barn getting so much done.
So, for me, being an adult amateur, and checking that box off every year with my USEA registration means that I am going to make time to be an eventer. It means I am going to take my money and throw it into lessons so I can get better, and maybe be better than mediocre. It means that my happy place will be the barn (most days). Being an adult amateur means this will always be a hobby. No matter how seriously I take it, or how hard I work to get better at it. It will be a hobby.
I watch professional riders and how hard they work. I in no way mean that I have it worse than people who ride for a living. If you want to be good at this sport, either as a pro or an amateur you have to log a lot of hours at the barn and in the saddle. And for me, being an amateur is a great thing. It fits my life. I get to go to the same events and ride in the same classes that the pros do, and get to watch how well they ride the test I just turned into a hack job. And while I bitch about being tired after work, I know they feel the same way after riding the 3rd/4th/5th horse of the day. Or telling their student the same thing lesson after lesson.
I imagine there are days they’d like to just be an adult amateur and go to a job for 8 hours and ride their horse after work.
I’ll continue to check that box and I’ll continue to call myself an adult amateur with pride. Getting to this point in eventing while still having a job I love, but can take over my life, is a serious feat. And on days when I am tired/grumpy/overwhelmed I’ll remember how lucky I am to have a horse and barn to go to.