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Chasing Your Dreams

It’s funny how you can prepare your whole life for your dreams to come true, and when they do, when you are in the moment, you realise just how hard it is to make your dreams happen!

By Melissa Cannon  

It has been a dream of mine since I was in my early twenties to ride and compete in Europe. It was a burning desire, a flame that has never flickered or dwindled with time.

After university, I rode full time at an eventing barn and quickly learnt that riding seven horses a day wasn’t for me. Riding was my passion, and I didn’t want it to feel like work.

As a professional rider, I also observed that the horses could be taken off you at any moment. The person paying the bills had the control, and it didn’t matter if the rider had ridden the horse for eight years in preparation for an Olympic Games; if there was money to be made, they were often sold at the crucial moment when your dreams looked like they had the possibility of coming true.

It was this realisation that shaped my career and my path in life for the next twenty years. I knew that I needed a career where I would earn the money required to own the horses and to have coaching with who I wanted. I planned to ride in Europe, and no matter how long it took, I was going to make it.

As I reflect now, this vision was my true why… it was why I pushed in my banking career. Why I set myself the goal of being a Senior Manager before I was thirty, why I pushed to be a Team Leader and ultimately, why I had side business hustles to make this dream a reality. It’s also why many career minded people never understood me because I had no desire to be a GM and climb the corporate ranks. Once I obtained the level required in my career to make my dreams come true before I was forty, I had no further corporate ambition. That certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want to succeed in my career. I have found my home at Mosaic, and they respect and understand that. They understand me.

I never imagined I would be embarking on this journey as a Para athlete. However, when a flame burns deeply inside you, I wasn’t letting my disability and degenerative disease stop me. In fact, the week I flew out, my specialist recommended I have surgery on my neck. I said that would have to wait as I was a lady on a mission.

So I packed up my life, I am selling my house and flew one horse from Australia and one from Germany to chase my Paris Paralympic dreams. I live in the Cotswolds and train with my long-term coach, Spencer Wilton. The Cotswolds is listed as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and it is certainly that! Sophie Griffiths (20, from Australia) has travelled with me and is grooming and supporting me on the journey.

Looking from the outside, it often looks glamorous when someone is chasing their dream. The reality is that it is bloody hard work at all levels. If you are afraid of hard work, then probably keep dreaming, as it won’t become a reality. Dreams equal blood, sweat and tears along the way, but they also light up your soul and provide a great sense of fulfilment. Chasing your dreams also requires an army of supporters around you, and there are so many people who I am incredibly privileged to have in my life and I can’t list them all here.

One special person, though, is Vicki MacDermid; I would not be here living my dream now without her incredible support. We met about 12 years ago when she was at Pitcher Partners, and I was at NAB, and the rest is history. She has not only enabled me on this journey, but she is also there on the end of the phone when things get tough. She shares my passion for the horses and understands the deep connection they bring.

I told my parents, that when I am in a nursing home, I can eat my custard knowing I lived my dream. They are such huge supporters and do so much for me every day, for which I am truly grateful.

I can’t control if I make it to the Paris Paralympics, but I am living my dream. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes years of planning, decades of hard work, and it takes a village, but one of the biggest learnings I have had throughout this experience is how you walk the path of life, very much can change your life. Chase your dreams, but make sure you are grateful and help others along the way and I am confident life will return you the same joy.

I literally have to pinch myself some days and say, “This is it!”. Your dream is coming true. You did it!