From Endurance to Dressage
Last week, a friend shared this article on Facebook. It's worth the read. I scored 94 points. Based on my score, I am among the very privileged.
I thought about that quiz the rest of the day. Do I think I am privileged? Yes, but more along the lines of it's an honor to be trusted by so magnificent a creature. Do I feel privileged in the sense that I have unearned or undue access to a lifestyle that others are denied? I don't.
I was raised by a single mom who came from a teenaged mom herself. My mom was a high school graduate with no skills who was married, divorced, and then the primary caregiver to two little girls by the time she was in her early twenties.
My mom dug deep. She got herself some training, worked a man's job, and did her damndest to avoid public assistance. As a little girl, I remember going with my mom to clean houses, pick fruit, and scrounge scrap metal to sell. My mom taught me to be a hard worker and to take responsibility for myself.
Neither my husband nor I feel a sense of entitlement. We're not owed anything. We don't "take." We don't expect the government to help us or fix things. We pay our taxes, go to work, and invest our money for retirement. While we are both of European descent, neither one of us gives a rat's ass what color you are or who you love. We won't judge you based on your color or gender, but we will judge you by your actions.
Before you criticize me for being insensitive or blind to the realities of the world we live in today, I get it. Not everyone has had the same "access" to the choices that I've had in front of me. By the same token, others have had more and better choices than me. I don't resent them for that.
My husband has expressed his frustration more than once about the recent movement that paints white men as oppressors who should feel guilty about their station in life. Should he donate his retirement to women who have been raped because it is men who perpetrate that crime? Should he be forced to give a portion of his salary to the NAACP because he makes more money than many black men?
Deep breath, Sweaney. I read the article. It made me think. Bigotry and racism have always made me angry. I am frustrated that there are assholes who force others to feel inferior or threatened or ashamed of who they are. But that's not me. That's not the man I married. I won't be made to feel guilty because of my European ancestry and gender.
I've been an elementary school teacher for nearly 30 years. I've seen more than one generation grow up, and I've seen a lot of changes over the past three decades. The one change that I am most excited about is the overwhelming diversity that I see in my classroom and my students' complete ignorance of racial lines. In fact, most of these kids have last names that don't seem to match their ethnicity.
All of these kids know that racism is "bad," that bullying is unacceptable, and that gender is becoming a fluid idea. That doesn't mean that this generation is going to solve the world's problems, because they won't. There are still kids who have parents who are blatant racists, homophobes, and bullies themselves. Those kids will struggle.
Is horse ownership a symbol of privilege? I never thought so, but I am not black, gay, mentally ill, or physically disabled. If I were one of those things, maybe I would feel differently. In the meantime, there are some who think that I don't get a say so because I am white, and in their view, white equals privilege. I am certain that many white kids do grow up with privilege, but so do many black and asian kids. I sure didn't feel privileged while I was picking walnuts and scrounging for scrap metal in a junker car. I felt poor and disadvantaged.
I was the first person in my extended family to graduate from college, but it wasn't easy. I worked part time jobs - sometimes several at a time, applied for and received a few grants and scholarships, and borrowed the rest to pay for college. My mom taught me that if I got an education and worked hard, I would be successful. She was right. Privilege wasn't any part of my growing up, but I wouldn't have turned my nose up at a college fund.
What about you? Did you take the quiz? What did you score? Do you feel "privileged?"
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%