In pursuit of my Level I FEI Show Jumping Coaching Certificate...
Never one to miss an opportunity when it arrives, I jumped at the chance to enroll in a FEI Level One Coaching course to be held in Lusaka, Zambia. I was earning a decent salary for the first time in a long time while at my latest job in India and the fire within me to travel anywhere outside of the chaotic country left me no choice but to create my own options. I didn’t exactly wait for opportunity to knock…rather I kicked down the door with full force and tackled him in the street.
Without hesitating or double checking with my boss, I emailed the hosting countries president of the equestrian federation as well as the president for the United States equestrian federation as to whether or not I had permission to partake in the course. A short exchange of emails and I was in.
Many people asked me later why I chose to do the course in Lusaka, rather than a “regular” European country. My response was of course one of two reasons. The first being, it was the closest country to India hosting a course for the next six months and the second reason being…why not?
Putting my monthly salary to good use, I bought my flight to Zambia, made my arrangements with my working schedule and packed my bags for my week long stay in my first ever “real” African country. I was ecstatic.
The plane ride from New Delhi to Ethiopia to Lusaka only helped to add to my excitement. I met a fellow solo woman traveler in between flights who gave me the inside scoop to Zambia. The only problem with my plan was that I had only asked for a week off of work, the exact amount of time needed for the course and as such I would have no chance to explore the country. Even my free time would be spent studying and preparing for the final exam at the end of the class. The importance of this FEI certification loomed over me as I realized my money, time, reputation, credibility and future was at stake.
I had been exchanging emails with the president of the Zambian Equestrian Federation frequently leading up to the course and was excited to meet her in person. The only information she had about me was found on my resume and likewise the only information I had about her was that she was kind enough to host me in her spare bedroom during my visit to her country.
When I landed in Zambia my nerves kicked in full swing. I had arrived! Would the president of the federation take me seriously? Would the instructor from Greece teaching the course be impressed with my skills as a riding coach? Would I pass the course with flying colors or fall flat on my face?
I stepped outside into the warm African air as my eyes searched for a woman I had never even met nor seen a photo. I spotted her immediately as she was the only person in sight wearing breeches, boots and a polo shirt. I approached her enthusiastically and greeted her with a warm smile. “Hello, I’m Krystal.”
The woman’s eyes widened as she scanned me head to toe. Without saying a word she burst into laughter. So much for my credibility…I thought as my face grew sullen.
“No, no, no…” the woman caught herself in between bursts of laughter. “It’s just that based on your resume I was expecting someone in their forties!”
I stayed in Lusaka for one week and during which time made many new friends. The Lusaka riding club was far above my expectations and I had a great time participating in the course as well as enjoying the dining events and outings with the fellow members in the course. After the Level One Course ended, I flew back to India and proceeded to fill out my Log Book for the FEI which I handed in a couple months later. I passed my Level One and later, went to Athens, Greece where I participated in my Level Two. I am now officially the ONLY FEI II Coach in the USA! And it all started with my crazy idea to fly to Zambia, the most unlikely of countries, for my FEI Level I.