A Feature in The Plaid Horse

November 13, 2017

Making an Equestrian Passion a Priority as an Amateur

Michelle writes a featured piece for The Plaid Horse, America's Premiere Horse Show Magazine

Above photo: Michelle Durpetti and Lucca. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography.

For the vast majority of amateur riders like myself, a riding helmet isn’t the only hat that we wear. In fact, on any given day I find myself donning four or five different ‘hats’ – and I know I’m not alone.

First and foremost I am me, making my way in the world as a fiance to my other half, Collin, and a part of my incredible family; I’m a wedding planner, owning and operating my own business, Michelle Durpetti Events; I am a managing partner of my family’s Gene & Georgetti restaurants in Chicago; we as a family have a wedding and events venue in Rosemont, IL; and of course, I have the horses.

I often feel like I spend time running from one thing to the next, quickly swapping one hat for the other, and, as I sit down at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and prepare for the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunters here and at the Washington International Horse Show, I realize that, when I got my acceptance to this year’s indoor horse shows, it could have been easy to turn it down and use the time to take a little breather. But that’s not me.

Above photo: Michelle Durpetti and Caitlyn Shiels with Lucca at the Washington International Horse Show. Photo by Fine Art Horses.

As amateur riders, I know many of us can say, “I’m too busy. Now’s not the right time because of x, y, or z.” But when will be the right time? I’m getting married in January, and we’re opening two more restaurants next year. I don’t know exactly where I’m going to be in a year. So instead of putting off pursuing my passion amidst the craziness that is life, I’ve found a way to make my passion a priority and to let it positively impact my careers, my relationships, and all facets of my life.

Make Every Moment Count
Two of the most prominent lessons that I’ve learned as I’ve gone through the past few years of horse showing are 1) be prepared for not a lot of sleep and 2) you have to make every moment count. The second one has been huge for me, as I strive to utilize as much of each day as I can.

Above photo: Michelle Durpetti at work as owner of Michelle Durpetti Events. Photo by Collin Pierson Photography.

My horses are kept with trainer and rider Caitlyn Shiels at Canterbury Farm – 52 miles from my house. I strategically schedule the majority of my conference calls for that time spent in the car, but then, when I get to the barn, my phone goes in the tack trunk and remains untouched until I’m ready to leave. Because for me, making every moment count isn’t just about fitting in as much as you can, it’s about enjoying the moment that you’re in and trying your best to focus solely on the task at hand.

I know they say, “Man plans; God laughs,” but I try my best to plan and schedule out my days to both maximize what I’m able to get done and to set boundaries as to what I am doing when. Caitlyn knows Wednesdays are never a good day for me to ride because I’m in the office. But my teams at work know, Thursday through Saturday, if I’m not working a wedding, those are my barn days.

For me, riding is the greatest therapy because it really drives home the idea that I can only focus on one thing at a time. I’m a multi-tasker by nature, and riding really forces me to just be in the moment with my horses.To continue reading, please click here.

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