A LETTER TO ME-Natalia Gurmankin
Keep going! That sentiment will ring true throughout everything in your life, but especially as it applies to your career in horses, just keep going!
You’re really focused on the destination right now, wide eyed and new to the east coast, but man just wait until you can see the journey that unfolds. You have already done some pretty incredible things, though you won’t recognize how cool they are quite yet.
Who knew horses would get you a ticket to travel the world? Your time as a groom/working student will yield some of your most valuable memories. You will find yourself in Greenwich Park grooming at the London Olympics and head down south for a memorable Pan Am Games. You’ll dance the night away in the tent at Burghley and drink one too many Pimms at Badminton!
At every venue you will picture what it would be like to find yourself here someday, and who knows someday you just might. You will gain lifelong friends on these trips, have the best inside jokes, and more importantly you will gain a wealth of knowledge in taking care of equine athletes at the highest level of sport.
You’ll drive big rigs up and down the coast, become an expert tire changer (well not really, but you’re really good at finding someone to help), it’ll take you a long time to figure out backing up a truck and trailer (lets face it, still not your strong suit), you’ll even get your CDL. And through all this, every long ass drive, flight and ferry you will find that when it comes time to consider doing this on your own, it all just seems a little less scary.
When it comes to your riding, you think you know what you’re doing, you don’t. You’re still learning something new every day- the good, the bad the ugly. Keep aspiring to be the best student in all things. You will work harder than you think, the days will be longer than you want and the lows will be lower than you realize but in those never-ending days, those low points you will find one of your greatest successes; the bonds forged between friends.
You will find a family that you didn’t realize you had, fiercely loyal friends that will continue to push you beyond what you think you are capable of, and out of the times that seem so dark, they will drag you back into the light. They will remind you of what is important and push you not only to be a better rider and competitor everyday but also to be a better person.
You will be lucky enough to ride some really incredible horses, and they will all teach you something different. Perseverance, patience, focus and perhaps most importantly humility!
When you lose your dad, you will think the dream is over. It’s not, it’s just the beginning of something different! Out of that tragedy you will find grit you didn’t know you had, and you will be hungrier to keep going. You will miss seeing him at the in gate, but you know he really has the best view, and that will bring you tremendous joy. You will find a group of incredible people who want to support your career, and you will start to build a business that you are very proud of.
Your greatest achievement will come in October 2019 and it is not a win, or a medal, it’s your son Jay. He will enrich your life in a way you didn’t think possible. You will load him up every day and take him to the barn with you and he will remind you why you want to keep working hard, plus he makes it so much more fun! You will be super nervous about returning to the sport as a new mom, don’t be! The days will look a little different, but you will come back and be hungrier than ever to continue as a competitor.
My advice to you, just keep going and don’t focus so much on the destination. Stay present, your only goal should be to be better than you were the day before. Be a student of the sport always. Keep learning and adapting, don’t worry about things not going perfectly, you are gaining experience!
Most importantly don’t lose sight of what is most important. Stay ambitious and KEEP GOING! Repeat that to yourself over and over. You will be more than you ever knew you could.