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World Mag > WM Summer 2018 edition > Ioana Tulea - Equestrian - Class of 2018

Ioana Tulea - Equestrian - Class of 2018

By Ioana Tulea, AISB Graduate of the Class of 2018, Equestrian
Ioana Tulea
Ioana Tulea

“What if you fly?”


People around me are always wondering; what it is about a horse that is so enthralling to you? What is it about this animal that incites you to train for three hours a day, six days a week, no matter the weather or your health? How can you persevere and continue this sport relentlessly, pushing past the pain and tears and sweat that it causes you?


My horses to me are not mere animals; they are my partners, my teammates, they are everything to me. In them, I see a reflection of my dreams and goals, a reflection of hard work and patience that both myself, my parents and my trainer invest relentlessly in. There is no feeling I have ever experienced as great as that of riding a horse with which you can connect with, a horse that knows you inside and out. That feeling of winning a class that both you and the horse have worked so hard to succeed in, and hearing the cheers of the public and the giddy feeling of bliss blossoming in both your chest and your horse’s.


I trust these animals with my life. When I am in the arena, the hundreds of people watching disappear, and in that moment, I am left alone with my partner beneath me. On the course, we breathe and move as one. We are no longer two separate beings of different species – we become one team. Each fraction of a second counts; the smallest mistake or hesitation can lead to gaining penalties or to elimination, as well as painful falls.


The risk is enormous; I have been thrown off the back of a 600 kg horse galloping at full speed into heavy wooden bars. There have been times where I blacked out for several minutes and have broken, torn and bruised more body parts than I care to count. I have seen my friends and people I idolize slammed into the ground and I have heard the sickening thud and cracking of their fragile bodies crumpling underneath their horses’ hooves. And yet I still continue, because ambition and determination propels me past the looming prospect of death or paralysis and into the belief that I can become great. No guts, no glory.


There are, of course, days in which it becomes too much. Days in which my horses won’t understand my commands and days in which I miscalculate and give them the wrong instructions. In those days, when the bruises and broken bones and torn muscles and overwhelming, frustration seems to engulf the prospect of success, slivers of doubt weave into my mind. But in those instances I remember that my horse - like me - has weaknesses, and days in which my commands don’t make sense and she cannot cooperate. I remember that when I tire, she tires with me, her breathing matches my own, her muscles shriek in protest as mine do when we’ve been working for too long but my trainer tells us to keep going. And I remember that despite all that, she pushes forwards and perseveres, always doing her best for me and never giving in, no matter what. And I owe it to her as well as to myself to keep pushing and to keep believing that one day, no matter the setbacks and obstacles, I will accomplish my dreams.


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