Over the last year, we’ve had the privilege of speaking with riders who have opened up to us about the highs, lows, and unique challenges inherent to equestrian sport. Whether selling their best horses, jumping their first grand prix at age 50+, struggling to train through cancer, or quitting the sport altogether, these riders inspired us with their courage, intrigued us with their unique perspectives, and above all, made us root for them.

Here, in their own, candid voices, are six of our favorite NF Style reads from 2017.

1. Cecilie Tofte: Why I Chose to Quit Riding to Pursue My College Degree

I had reached my limit. The joy of going to the stable every morning was gone, and for the first time, I could see myself back on the school bench.

Denmark’s Cecilie Tofte launched her professional riding career at just 16 years of age. Eight years later, she walked away from the sport altogether to return to university. We sat down with Cecilie to learn more about the reasons behind her decision, what it’s really like to make your living on the international circuit, and the advice she has for young riders with professional aspirations of their own.

2. Robyn Hunt: What It’s Really Like to Train Through Cancer

My life was not cancer, my life was horses.

In 2011, Canadian trainer Robyn Hunt was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer. Here, she gives an unflinching glimpse at the manifold repercussions that serious illness can have on professionals in the industry, and how her horses, family, and community helped her hold onto “normal” when it mattered the most.

3. Teri Kessler On Entering—and Winning—Her First Grand Prix at Age 54

At 54, to say, ‘Can I canter up to that jump with a 1 next to it and stay focused and do this, or have I reached my limit?’ You don’t know, but then you walk in there and you think, I’m going to find out.

Amateur rider Teri Kessler describes her road from the Adult jumpers to the grand prix ring at a time in life when most riders are moving down, not up, and the four simple words that altered the course of her journey in the sport.

4. Jess Dimmock: What’s It’s Really Like When a Top Rider Asks to Buy Your Best Horse 

I had to follow my head and not my heart.

In May, aspiring professional Jess Dimmock made her Nations Cup debut aboard the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Cybel II. The pair earned the best result for the British team, and one person there to witness it was Irish Olympian Cian O’Connor, who quickly approached Dimmock to ask if he could purchase Cybel II for his own string. Here, Dimmock explains why she made the decision to sell her best mare and the important lessons she’s learned along the way.

5. Javier Berganza: What It’s Really Like Growing Up at the Family Sales Barn in Mexico 

We didn’t really know how to ride, we would just get in there and run around and try to jump the jumps.

What’s it really like to grow up in a family with four riding brothers, in a house where the chief passion is horse showing and sales? Mexican showjumper Javier Berganza explains.

6. Jennifer Bliss: When Your Sales Horse Becomes Your Horse of a Lifetime 

Pokey is not the truly scopiest or stridiest horse I have ever ridden, nor is he the most classically rideable. But that horse is braver and has more ‘try’ than any horse I’ve ridden in my life.

Jennifer Bliss is a bit of an anomaly in the hunter ring, where long-term professional partnerships can be few and far between. When she bought the 15.3-hand Poker Face seven years ago, he was a two-year turnaround project to help Jennifer make her name in the industry. But sometimes, life and friendship have other plans.