Monday, 25 January 2016 10:58

The Bucket List — Part 1

Written by Julie Brewster

What happens when a middle aged woman gets an opportunity to follow a dream and cross something off the Bucket List from 25 years earlier in life?

She takes it! And then panics...

My name is Julie, and my earliest memories involve horses. For all of my life my parents had either Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds on the farm at Bowden - broodmares, stallions, foals, yearlings and almost always, race horses. I read Walter Farley's Man 'O War over and over in elementary school and I cannot tell you how many times I tucked my legs under me on my pony and pretended to be a jockey on Big Red, breaking from the barrier at Saratoga...

I knew I'd be too big to make a jockey, but I always wanted to work at the track. Hot walking, grooming, whatever, I just wanted to work with race horses. And I dreamed of learning to be an exercise rider. I had a particularly spectacular argument with my dad in high school when he forbade me from even considering running off to be a gallop girl - he was quite sure I wouldn't be tough enough for life on the backstretch. He won the argument (those who know me know that might have been the last one he won!) and I graduated and went to university, and then I graduated university and from there life took over and my dreams of working with racehorses slowly drifted away. In the years since then I have been to a lot of racetracks and watched a lot of races and loved a lot of horses, but I have never worked a day at the track. And I've always regretted not trying harder to win that argument in high school!

Dreams might take awhile, but they can come true and this 40-something office employee has been offered the chance of a lifetime to participate as a guest student in the Olds College Racetrack Programs! When you have a chance to cross something off the Bucket List, you should. No matter how irrational, scary or slightly ridiculous it might seem, right? Right? Because an extra (hehem) 30 or so pounds, the complete inability to tuck my legs up under me pretending to be a jockey and the fact that I haven't sat on a horse for two years should be insignificant to following dreams, right? Right?!

Boot Camp for the 2016 Olds College Exercise Rider students starts tomorrow, and I will be joining them for the full 5 days. I'll be Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and Periscoping as much as I can between classes to share the experience. Please follow me on my journey this week as the adult me learns something that the childhood me wanted to learn - how to ride a racehorse! I'm afraid that I'm so full of nerves (oh dear, why didn't someone try to talk sense into me? where's dad with his arguments now?) and excitement (squeeee, I'm actually going to do what I've always wanted to do!) that tonight I won't sleep a wink!

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