Seventeen years ago, I got the show saddle that would help my accomplish my riding dreams. This week, I said goodbye to that saddle and a huge chapter of my horse life.

After 17 years, I finally decided to part ways with my show saddle. I haven't shown in it since 2011, but up until recently I thought I might go back to showing the all-around and was afraid to let go of it "just in case." I have spent a majority of my show career in that saddle; it's been through several horses and has taken me from the novice division to the beginning of my amateur career. But I finally came to the realization that it was time to close that chapter in my life.

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Nichole Chirico riding her horse, A Star of Impulse, in the horsemanship.

My show saddle took me from novice 13-and-under events all the way into my amateur career.

It wasn't until I started my job at Horse&Rider that I realized I was ready to part ways with not just my show saddle, but the all-around events all together. It's not that I don't love them, they hold a special place in my heart and have been huge in shaping me into the rider I am today. I even managed to get a scholarship as an NCAA athlete because of it. But I've recently decided to expand my riding knowledge by hopefully branching out into events like the reining or the cow horse (and thankfully I have programs like Horse&Rider OnDemand to help me start my new journey). I'm also enjoying time outside of the show pen exploring the Colorado Rockies on horseback with my friend. So with that decision came my decision to sell my saddle. 

As I listed it for sale online, I started thinking about all the memories I had with this saddle. It was my first real show saddle. It took me from 13-and-under novice events to the AQHA World Show. I rode in it from the start of my teenage years and was still riding in it as I hit my mid-20s. It made the move across the country with me as I went from Illinois to Oklahoma, and then, finally, to Colorado. 

Within days of listing that saddle I had a family message me and ask to come look at it. When they showed up, I knew that I was making the right decision. This girl was looking to start competing at AQHA shows and needed a saddle that she could use for years to come. In that moment, I realized that after 17 years it was time to pass my saddle on to someone who's journey in the horse-show world was only just beginning. The best part, she lives nearby. Now I get to watch my saddle be part of someone else's dream of competing in the all-around.

 I'll eventually be on the hunt for a new show saddle; but this time one that I can learn to sliding stop and spin on.

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