When the Going Gets Tough

Managing Editor Nichole Chirico is competing in a fitness challenge that involves competing in a USA Boxing match to raise money and awareness for a local equine therapeutic riding center. During the process she’ll be blogging about her experience. You can read her first blog here

Never Going to be Easy

Today was the official start of training for this event and it brought up a lot of tough feelings I’ve kept locked away (and wasn’t ready to visit again) since walking away from my last AQHA World Show nine years ago. I placed 7th at that event, but all I could think about was how I had been sitting in one of the top spots going into the finals and should have done better. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to take a horse I bought out of a pasture and trained in this event completely by myself to a place like the world show and make it against some of the top riders and horses in the world after a four-year hiatus. But I knew I could have done better.

That similar feeling of not being good enough came back today. Seven years ago, holding a plank at the end of a tough workout was normal. At the time, I was a college athlete at Oklahoma State University and early morning workouts (that included everything from stadiums, sprints, abs, and weight lifting) were part of my daily routine. Today I struggled. The hour drive home was silent and I questioned everything I had been doing these last seven months to prepare. 

As an athlete at Oklahoma State I worked with a strength and conditioning coach in the mornings and then would train at the barn in the afternoons. In this particular photo, my team took home the Big 12 Championship and I claimed the MVP in horsemanship.

Put it in Perspective

It took an hour of being selfish to realize that some of the people I met at Hearts & Horses last week don’t ever get the chance to be so tired their arms shake uncontrollably. They don’t get to be anxious because they struggle at running and don’t want to disappoint their coaches and teammates. Some of these people are just trying to survive.

I promised you all that I would update you on everything and this is the not-so-glorious part of it. So now I’m working on getting over myself and preparing for the next morning workout and I’m going to remind myself that doing something new isn’t going to be easy.

Even with the 4 a.m. wake-up call (which I’m not normally a fan of) I am enjoying the journey of stepping out of my comfort zone and preparing to compete in a boxing match in front of 700-plus people. If you enjoy following my journey and want to help me reach my goal and donate to support Hearts & Horses in their efforts to help riders with special needs, at-risk kids, and veterans that struggle with PTSD, you can do so here

Stay tuned! The next blog post will be about my visit to Hearts & Horses to be part of the Hope in the Saddle 2019 Therapy Horse of the Year award presentation. I even had a chance to sit down and do a podcast interview with a few people at Hearts & Horses for an upcoming episode of The Ride

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