Mary Goodrich ’20 reflects on her time at the barn

Each “What Matters Most?” interview tries to capture an aspect of a student’s pursuits or interests that might not be visible in their everyday Waynflete experience. This week, I caught up with Mary Goodrich ’20 after discovering she spends nearly 20 hours a week at a barn working with horses, something she loves and hopes to make her career someday.

Mary, how did you first discover this passion?
I heard about dressage and riding through my best friend in 4th grade and just wanted to see what it was about. I was immediately drawn in by seeing you could make friends with the horse you were riding. As I got older I began to see it as an art, but back then it was just fun and I loved animals.

When did you begin to get serious about it?
I started making friends at the barn and getting close with my trainer and realized that even when I wasn’t riding, I had a whole additional “family” to hang out with and grow with. I’ve always been worried about what I would do as a job in the future. I knew I didn’t want to be in a cubicle, for example. I appreciate horses so much and you can work with both your horse and with yourself- I love teaching people, there’s a lot to it.

Can you describe a setback or scary moment?
I fell off and my first horse went lame and I suddenly had to ride a lot of other horses. I had to change my view completely, all horses were different, some faster, some scarier, I had to get to know a different way. It actually helped me because I didn’t get to ride my own horse but I started learning so much at the same time.

How have you shared this part of yourself at school?
In 6th grade I learned that others didn’t care about horses as much as I, so I just shut up. For those that are interested, I tell them about the drama at the barn. I did change barns at one point- my first trainer was like my mom, but I felt I wasn’t getting to the highest level and learn as much as I could. Even though it was a painful decision, I had to go somewhere else and she understood.I go to Freeport Equestrian Center, and I have been become a better rider. I don’t always talk about it because people who don’t know about it, might just think “cowgirl” but they don’t really know. My 7th grade advisor still knows how important this is to me. My parents know.

What keeps you so committed?
It’s like therapy. It’s hard and there is drama but I choose to deal with it. After I have a setback, it’s kind of good to know you can get better. It helps me with communication skills. It really gets me thinking. My trainer uses a lot of analogies to explain the concepts. It kind of blows your mind that dressage can be as complicated as math and science- thinking about the horse’s body mass and how strong they are and what they’ll be able to try. In dressage, the whole point is to make the horse look good. Dressage is the art of practically making them dance.

What are your hopes for the future?
I want to look back on my journey and I want to be a trainer and have a ranch and look back on the obstacles and be older and have the satisfaction of creating a community. Each barn has a community and I want it to be a positive community. Every barn has a family. Horseback riding is a hard thing to think about doing in your future and there’s no major in high school. But I’m open about it. It bring me a lot of happiness.