**1 week until RPSI inspection**

The best [sarcasm] part of the RPSI Inspection? It ended up being the same week as my family’s yearly cottage trip. I don’t just mean my husband and daughter. I mean my father—who lives in the United States—and my brother and his family—who I rarely see. I can’t back out of this one, folks, no matter the reason. It’s been booked since February.

What’s a girl to do?

Thankfully, I have a barn full of people who know how much this means to me. When I sent out a mass message to every confident jumper in my barn explaining my situation, the response was nearly tear-inducingly wonderful. Three of them agreed to ride Star (aka keep her in work condition). The other two offered to just keep her shiny and clean.

And let me tell you, shiny and clean is the name of the game, at the moment.

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She’s not wet, just shiny!

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. I’m lucky to belong to a barn family that is willing to look after me and mine. It’s a pretty unique thing to want the people around you to grow and succeed, even at their own detriment. I know I don’t really care about “beating” a barn mate as much as I do about us all going out and doing well. But I also know that I’m a bit of a weirdo.

This, of course, doesn’t take into account the people that have helped me get this far. T for supporting me like she’s known me for years and constantly giving advice and pointers. Theresa for stepping in to handle, braid and just basically talk me down from the crazy ledge. Sara for excitingly taking on the task of photographing the day.

And of course, my coach, and the owner of the barn, B. Not only has she made this whole inspection possible, she’s never once questioned my resolve. “This is happening? How can I help?” has more or less been the response from day one.

Then I think about all the parents of young riders or the young riders themselves who have complimented me on Star’s progression. The ones who have made me feel less silly for trying this. The people that have watched me get more and more anxious as the day gets closer and have done nothing more than just sidle up to me and ask if everything’s okay.

I sort of figured it was just me, and that my lack of experience and finesse in this area meant that I needed a small army in order to accomplish my goals.

Then I saw a post from one of my mentors. She has spent years building up her credentials as a breeder of fantastic sport horses with a dash of colour. I drool over her foals, and would love the chance to see her stock in person someday. This woman who barely knows me, who has only ever spoken to me via the power of the internet, has done nothing but graciously encourage me. Recently, she had this year’s foal crop inspected. All three were premium, of course.

The most surprising thing? She ran through a long list of people that helped ensure everything went right on the day of the inspection. Then she posted a photo and hashtagged it: “It takes a village.” It seems I’m not as alone in this as I thought.

Since riders tend to be a bit superstitious, I feel very little embarrassment in admitting this next bit. I was filling up my gas tank after a barn workout on Thursday. I ran inside to pay and decided to grab a pop. There was a sale on that was almost two-for-one, so I grabbed two. It wasn’t until I got back into my car that I noticed one said, “Big Win” and the other “Strut Your Stuff.”



I think it’s a sign.

One way or another this will all be over by next week. I can hardly wait to see how it goes…

Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Jumper Circuit and Warmblood Breed Inspections. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.

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