Finding Her Seat

Ocala, Fl, January 2022

My niece Delaney Rose’s first horse was not a wooden one, nor one made of yarn and broomstick—and it wasn’t one; it was a barnful. She was literally raised in a barn. Her mom, a horsewoman, rider, trainer, teacher to aspiring equestrians, took Del to the barn with her before the child could walk.

The first time I visited the barn during one of my Oregon summer trips, Delaney was maybe four, a tousled towhead toddling unconcerned among majestic beasts weighing 1,000 pounds, more or less, but she was little. She thought nothing of it, plopped in the dust and hummed unconcerned as the hubbub of barn life surged around her. When her mom swung her up onto the back of a roan, Delly beamed. These guys were her playmates!

Fast forward 19 years to an August afternoon in the summer of 2018: I had not seen Delaney ride until her quest for ranking brought her to an accredited event at a farm near enough for us to attend. Many such events demanded extensive travel, but we were lucky, as was she. This one was only an hour away from us, double that and then some for her. Neither she nor her family are wealthy, so these competitions are working ones for her. And they are WORK.

Delaney “gets” to ride the horses she takes care of and trains with for their wealthy owners. She manages the packing up, the driving, the equipment, the animals. She navigates the horse world judiciously, knowing that her love of riding and the ability to do so at this level requires a commitment as well as finesse. Horse owners can be temperamental, but Delaney has always been driven to ride, and the jockeying is worth it!

After her remarkable showing in the steeplechase, “a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles,”we meet Delaney at one of the barns in a row of similar structures. She is with her mount (not hers) now shed of saddle and tack, and she smiles wide, his velvet muzzled head at her shoulder. As we talk, he nudges her playfully and she chuckles. “He’s so much like a dog, isn’t he?” turning to stroke him. “And jealous, just like one, too.” Love language.

It’s love you see, too, in the photo above; Delaney has found her dream job, despite her parents’ gently grounding her, making sure she understood her slim chance at finding her seat at the table with the upper-tier equestrian community. But she has—luck, talent, and hard work have landed her here. She is, as her dad, my doting brother, describes, “Riding the best of big-ass horses over mind-blowing obstacles,” pride oozing from every pore.

Not that many of us realize our dream; Delaney has.

7 thoughts on “Finding Her Seat”

  1. What an incredible life experience growing up with horses . . . Delaney learned so much from the experience and is a success. Kudos to her.

    1. Can you tell me where to find your blog? I found posts from 2021, and while I’d gladly read them, I know you’re doing this year’s challenge. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. Oh wow, that is amazing, she was definitely born and raised to do this, how exciting that you could get to see her do what she does so well! Horses are absolutely my favourite animal, so I feel quite envious!

    1. I felt exactly as you say, “excit[ed]… to see her do what she does so well.” It is the best thing ever to witness others’ joy. Thanks for reading.

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