Nothing is more important than finding the right person to share most of your time with, who will pick you up when you’ve had a bad day and encourage you to follow your dreams. The person I’m talking about isn’t your spouse or your boyfriend, it is your travel buddy. You spend loads of time with them on the road, they see you when you’re vulnerable and they see the highs and the successes, too.
Sometimes crazy things happen while going down the road, and I know when those things happen that I want someone who has my back. Case in point, last year my buddy T’Laine and I went to Estevan for a race. My trailer was infested with millers (a type of moth) which we didn’t know until we slept in it the first night. I have the kind of luck that no one envies, and it was just my luck that one of those pesky millers decided that my ear would make a cozy home. I woke up in a panic at 1 am with the miller’s wings fluttering in my ear. After trying, unsuccessfully, to remove said moth from my ear I woke up poor T’Laine. To give the woman credit, she didn’t even bat an eye when I said she needed to drive me to the ER because there was a bug in my ear (which she couldn’t see). Without T’Laine that weekend I would have been in a serious bind with no sleep.
Not only is your travel buddy someone who has to “put up with your crazy,” but he or she is someone that should share some things in common with you. T’Laine and I share the same sugar addictions (did someone say Sourpatch Kids?), but we also share similar tastes in bits and equipment as well as riding styles. We get along well and are comfortable with each others’ quirks.
Sometimes your travel partner is the person who has to tell you things that you don’t want to hear. Last fall, Naomi and I went to a race at the Cottonwood Arena in Montana. I was seasoning a colt and my confidence was in the dirt thanks to a few things going on in my life the last few years. This horse has a lot of potential and fits my style, something that I haven’t experienced in 3 years, but I wasn’t riding this horse like I should. I was riding conservative, meek when this horse needed an aggressive rider to push her. Naomi and my sister sat me down after my first run told me like it was. “Get off your butt and ride!” they both said. Naomi even stayed with me in the holding pens to help me stay focused and to remind me to ride aggressive as I went in to the alleyway. I rode much better and that run gave me to confidence I needed at the end of the season. Having a travel partner is more than an economic decision, it also can affect your performance in the arena. Thanks to my travel buddy, I changed my mindset and my style or else I would have probably rode conservative on that run and not seen my horse’s potential.
I would not be the competitor I am today without the influence of great travel partners. They have taught me to take care of my horses, how to be a better athlete, and how to improve my mental game. I’d like to thank those special people who have made such an impact in my life, I think you know who you are. You are the ones that have put up with my “crazy,” my strange sleep habits, my music taste and my quirky horses.