Impossible Dream? Welcome to Reality

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This is my final memoir that I wrote for my senior English elective, Girls Write Here! Hope you enjoy!

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<ul><li><p>1 </p><p>Impossible Dream? Welcome to Reality Kailin Baechle </p><p>Here. Now. In this moment, the entire world is frozen, as if one tiny movement or a sharp </p><p>intake of breath would cause the world to implode before our eyes. I only have one last chance to </p><p>prove that we belong here in the National Championship. One chance to prove to myself, my </p><p>supporters, and my adversaries that my years of blood, sweat, and tears werent wasted. This is </p><p>it. The entire world is spinning around me. The blue and white of the arena walls blur into the </p><p>evergreen of the shavings under his feet. Its probably because Im subconsciously holding my </p><p>breath, and the lack of oxygen is inhibiting the function of my brain. I can feel the eyes of each </p><p>person in the stands, staring anxiously to see if hell take a wrong step. </p><p>Whoa. </p><p>Im not sure if Im saying it to him or myself. All I know is Im repeating the word </p><p>incessantly, until my voice wavers enough to make the word incomprehensible. Now my entire </p><p>body is shaking- twitching in sharp, sporadic movements. Ive lost all control. I close my eyes. I </p><p>need to calm down. I need to feel, deep down inside of myself, that I have control. That I can- </p><p>and will- do this. He stands beneath me- still, but poised to spring into any movement that I ask </p><p>of him at any moment. </p><p>Beneath the cover of my eyelids, I can see the words coming back to me- the words that </p><p>have stained the mirrors in my room for years. The greatest barrier to success is the fear of </p><p>failure. Before you win, you have to believe you are worthy. When you need something to </p><p>believe in, start with yourself. I have recited these words over and over, dreaming of this </p></li><li><p>2 </p><p>moment. Now Im here, and its time to put them into action. I gasp for air and manage to take a </p><p>breath. I curl my fingers tighter around the reigns, feeling their cold roughness through my </p><p>immaculate white gloves. </p><p>How did I get here, anyway? Well, eleven years ago, I was a girl with a dream- an </p><p>impossible dream that only a six-year-old has the audacity to dream. I was going to be a </p><p>horseback rider, and I was going to be great. On a stormy fall day after years of relentless </p><p>pleading, my moms white Lexus SUV pulled into the dusty gravel drive of Meadowood Stables. </p><p>When I stepped into the barn for the first time, the wind whipped through the open ends of the </p><p>barn, threatening to lift the whole structure off the ground, much less a forty pound girl. By that </p><p>time, the entire barn was empty other than the lesson instructor, Leslie. All of the show horses </p><p>had been worked for the day, being ridden or jogged before the humidity came to slow them </p><p>down. Leslie stood with her hand resting on the neck of a dusty bay quarter horse with a round </p><p>white star that was beginning to bleed out with age. His personality matched his name- Buddy. </p><p>Within minutes, I put my feet in the irons for the first time. Despite Buddys smaller stature, my </p><p>bony legs barely fell halfway down his sides. My mom was absolutely terrified. To her, it </p><p>seemed impossible for a girl that small to control such a powerful animal. And I wasnt just any </p><p>six-year-old girl. I was the girl who would run away from the soccer ball when someone kicked </p><p>it in my direction. Nevertheless, I gazed into the eye of a thousand-pound animal without a hint </p><p>of fear. My hand made its way from his forehead, between his ears, down his muscly neck to his </p><p>powerful shoulder. The feeling wasnt new to me- it was natural. In his giant eye, I saw more </p><p>than darkness- even more than the honest soul of the gentle animal that lived behind that </p></li><li><p>3 </p><p>glistening eye. I saw myself. I saw my heart, my soul, my dreams, and my future. At that </p><p>moment, I grabbed the reins, looked up through his fuzzy ears, and never looked back. </p><p>Of course, just riding was never going to fulfill my grandiose dreams. I wanted a show </p><p>horse of my own. On Christmas morning when I was ten, my mom insisted that we go to the </p><p>barn to take Christmas pictures with Rambler- the lesson horse I was riding at the time. When we </p><p>got to the barn, it was absolutely breathtaking. Snow was falling softly from a creamy white sky </p><p>onto the couple of inches of fluffy powder that had accumulated overnight. The barn was </p></li><li><p>4 </p><p>completely empty. The twinkling Christmas lights that had been strung above the stalls were the </p><p>only light in the silent expanse of darkness. Out of nowhere, Natalie- my trainers daughter- </p><p>appeared and asked if she could read me a poem that she wrote. Seeing that I had no choice, I </p><p>agreed. She led me into the middle of the dark arena. It was a long poem, but Ill always </p><p>remember the ending lines: A little lady, a gift for Kailin, her name is Sadie. At that moment, </p><p>all of the lights in the barn flashed on at once, accompanied by an echoing metallic click, which </p><p>was soon followed by the unmistakable mellifluous sound of metal shoes hitting the pavement in </p><p>the stall aisleway. My parents emerged with a video camera near the rail, and before I could </p><p>process what was happening, my two trainers appeared from the aisleway leading a prancing </p><p>mare with a giant red bow around her neck. Her coat glistened like melted chocolate, shining </p><p>almost purple under the bright lights. She was unlike any horse I had ever seen. She had a white </p><p>stripe that stopped hallway up her face instead of continuing up between her eyes, and she had a </p><p>back that looked like Santa Claus must have been just a little too heavy. Now I know she was </p><p>sway-backed- so swaybacked that her back made a perfect U shape between her withers and </p><p>her hips. But to me, she was perfect. My trainer handed me her leadrope, but I still couldnt </p><p>believe it. She was mine. I had a show horse. I held my hand out to say hello, and her velvet </p><p>nose immediately dropped onto my palm and made its way over to blow warm, balmy air onto </p><p>my face. Thats when I saw the golden plate on the side of her halter with the inscription Kailin </p><p>Baechle below Private Conversation. I threw my arms around her neck, and my tears made </p><p>black blotches on her chest. I was no longer just a lesson rider. </p></li><li><p>5 </p><p>Thus began my seven year career showing in saddleseat equitation- a career that would </p><p>eventually total 127 show ring appearances with 68 first place and 33 second place finishes. </p><p>Before I knew it, I had a new trainer, Kent, and a new horse- Devote. Devote, or arguably </p><p>Devot, was a seventeen-year-old round-barreled chestnut mare with a big white stripe and an </p><p>even bigger heart to go with it. When I was twelve, she took me to a place that I had never </p><p>imagined, even my wildest of dreams- the World Championship Horse Show in Louisville, </p></li><li><p>6 </p><p>Kentucky. It was surreal. In contrast to the usual brown dirt and dusty white walls, Freedom Hall </p><p>was overflowing with electric color. The walls were scrubbed clean until the white paint shone in </p><p>contrast to the royal blue drapes behind them. Instead of dirt, the ring was filled with neon green </p><p>cedar shavings. Even the judges booth in the middle of the ring was surrounded with bright </p><p>yellow flowers. Ill never forget that pungent Louisville smell. The smell of baby oil, horse </p><p>sweat, and cedar that shot into my nose with the cold sting of the blasting air conditioning that </p><p>provided some relief from the Kentucky August heat. The very air I breathed was supersaturated </p><p>with excitement. As we stood in the warm-up ring waiting for the gates to open for our class, I </p><p>marveled at the riders around me. Everyone in my age group was from other chapters- I had </p><p>never competed against any of them before. Next to me was Gavin Gagnon- the boy who had </p><p>won the World Championship the year before and the three years before that. Before I was done </p><p>admiring his beautiful bay mare, the gates opened, and down the chute we went. When Devotes </p><p>feet hit the bottom of the ramp, her neck flew back into my lap, and my seventeen-year-old mare </p><p>decided that she was ten years younger. At the end of the thrilling class, the announcers voice </p><p>echoed through Freedom Hall. The choice of the judges is unanimous. I leaned down and </p><p>patted Devotes sweaty shoulder, telling her that I thought we did amazing, anyway. The </p><p>announcers voice boomed again. Kents hands were against her neck and then my waist. Her </p><p>hooves pounded against the green shavings. The cameras flashed, and I must have smiled. I was </p><p>in the winners circle. I won the World Championship. Congratulations, Kailin, the ringmaster </p></li><li><p>7 </p><p>said as he handed the blue ribbons to Kent. In that moment, my impossible dream seemed to be </p><p>possible, after all. </p><p>The next year I won again with a horse named Murray and a new trainer named Gary, but </p><p>I had yet to really find the greatness I dreamed of. I hadnt yet found the horse that would take </p><p>me there. That June, I found myself in Kentucky on a horse-trying trip with my mom and Gary. </p><p>It was our third day of the journey, and I had chosen my favorite pink polo shirt to wear on that </p><p>warm June morning. As we pulled into the drive of the Leatherwood Stud Farm, it was the most </p><p>beautiful place I had ever seen. As far as the eye could see, there was rolling green pastures </p></li><li><p>8 </p><p>dotted with mares and their foals. The drive seemed to go on forever as we drove all the way to </p><p>the back corner to the training barn called Visser Stables. As I walked into the barn, Neil Visser </p><p>brought out a lean bay gelding named Harley Rally. Gary gave me a leg up onto his back, and </p><p>off we went. It was probably the worst ride of my life. When I asked him to trot, all he did was </p><p>canter, and when I asked him to canter, all he did was trot. In short, it was a complete disaster. </p><p>How could something so wrong feel so right? Looking up through his chiseled black-tipped ears, </p><p>something inside of me knew that he was the horse I needed to buy. He was the horse that would </p><p>carry me to greatness. As we pulled back onto the highway, my mom asked which horse I </p><p>thought we should buy. In a moment of faith, I asked God to give me a sign that my intuition </p><p>was right. At that moment a big, flashy black pickup truck swerved in front of us, and there was </p><p>nothing other than a giant Harley Davidson decal on its rear window. Call it coincidence or call </p><p>it destiny, I immediately turned to my mom and said Harley Rally. She turned to me in </p><p>disbelief, given the disastrous ride that I had just had, but she saw in my eyes that I was serious. </p><p>Riley was not trained for equitation when he arrived home to Fairfield South Saddlebreds </p><p>a week later. He couldnt pick up a trot without skipping for a few steps, he couldnt halt for </p><p>more than a few seconds without fidgeting, and he cantered with huge strides like a gaited horse. </p><p>From the beginning, many people tried to convince me that I had made the wrong decision, and I </p><p>would never be successful with a horse like Riley. No one believed that he would ever be a </p><p>champion equitation horse, but then again, no one ever believed that I would be a champion </p><p>equitation rider. For three years, we trained and trained and trained until slowly but surely, we </p></li><li><p>9 </p><p>began to take the shape of an equitation team. Equitation isnt always about having a robotic </p><p>horse that lets you just sit on its back and look pretty. I have never wanted to be that rider, even </p><p>if it meant winning every class I went into. For me, equitation isnt about the competitions or the </p><p>titles. Its about the unbreakable bond between a horse and his rider and the indecipherable </p><p>language that they speak. Its about unconditional love and impossible dreams that somehow </p><p>find their way into reality. Riley and I have been to Hell and back together, but we have never </p><p>given up on each other. Thats why were here now. </p><p>I can do this. 1 2 3. I open my eyes. It seems like weve been standing here for </p><p>hours, but its only been a few seconds. Everything is clear now. I just have to keep him moving </p><p>in a straight line until his nose touches the white wall. Well, thats only the first step, but well </p><p>worry about the next segment when we get there. I tighten my right hand, squeezing my fingers </p><p>to my palm in an imperceptible movement to shift his bit to the right side of his mouth. I shift </p><p>my right hip into his back and touch him ever-so-slightly with my right calf. </p><p>Canter. </p><p>He picks up his correct lead without moving a foot out of place. Weve never done that </p><p>so perfectly before. His nose touches the rail, and I halt him and pivot him 135 degrees to the left </p><p>to face the other side of the arena. A thousand pounds of pure muscle surge beneath me, yet we </p><p>dont move anywhere. I can hear the whispers in the stands now. I know they cant believe what </p><p>theyre seeing. Harley Rally doing a perfect equitation pattern? Impossible. </p></li><li><p>10 </p><p>Trot. </p><p>He surges into a bold show trot without a hint of uncertainty. He bends his body perfectly </p><p>as I ask him to execute a half-circle once we hit center-ring. He stops before I have to say </p><p>anything. In this moment, were perfectly in tune with each other. He knows what Im going to </p><p>ask next before I even begin to ask, and I can anticipate his every move. He transitions </p><p>flawlessly into a canter to complete the circle and makes a straight line to the opposite rail. </p><p>Whoa. </p><p>All thats left to do is pivot 90 degrees to the right and trot back to the line-up. Oh, and I </p><p>have to take my feet out of the irons for the entire distance back. I can do this. 139 rides on </p><p>Riley, and it all comes down to this. It all comes down to digging my knees solidly into the </p><p>saddle and lightening up on his bridle to let him fly down the rail like the performance horse he </p><p>is. </p><p>Ready Riley? Trot. </p><p>Before I feel the sting of my jods rubbing against the skin of my knees like sandpaper, </p><p>Im back in the lineup. The whole crowd erupts in applause. Here, in my last equitation ride, I </p><p>have finally achieved the greatness I have always dreamed of. No matter the results of the class, </p><p>my impossible dream has found its way into reality. I throw my arms around Rileys neck, which </p><p>is now covered with white, frothy foam where the reins have rubbed against it. </p></li><li><p>11 </p><p>The 2013 American Royal Saddle Seat Equitation National Champion is Number </p><p>247: Kailin Baechle. </p><p>Hot tears form in my eyes and escape down my cheeks as we turn into the winners </p><p>circle. I had never even imagined winning a National Championship with him. So many mixed </p><p>emotions find their way into my head. Of course Im overjoyed that we won, and I finally got to </p><p>experience a true moment of greatness. But this is our last time. After tonight, I will never see </p><p>Riley again. After tonight, everything we have worked for will be nothing but a memory. Its </p><p>time to pass on my dream to another little girl. I look up at the crowd and the lights and the </p><p>cameras. I want to take it all in one last time. The crowd cheers louder than ever before as we </p><p>march down the rail for the very last time. </p><p> When I was six years old, I met an old bay quarter horse named Buddy. He looked at me, </p><p>and I looked at him. I knew I was where I was supposed to...</p></li></ul>