Bella Hadid Gave Up Her Horse — and Her Lifelong Dream — For the Most Tragic Reason

Bella Hadid is one of the top models in the world today. From her impressive work, it might seem as if she was poised to walk the runway and pose for photos since she was little, but that was actually not the case.

In fact, Hadid had a different dream when she was younger. She loves horses and used to ride them a lot, which made her want to pursue a career in a different field than modeling.

Read on to learn more about Hadid’s goal as a child and the tragic reason she had to walk away from it.

Bella Hadid in a white dress at a fashion show
Bella Hadid | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Bella Hadid originally wanted to become an equestrian

Bella Hadid grew up loving horses – something that she got from her famous mother, Yolanda. She shared in a 2015 issue of Porter: “I have been riding since I could walk and the fact that my mom knew everything about horses really helped my passion grow.”

Hadid also compared horse-riding to yoga and something she does to calm herself down.

But she did not just for horses for fun, however. Ever since she was young, Hadid trained at Far West Farms in California. She eventually pursued the equestrian career path and even won awards on the national level. At some point, Hadid was training for the Olympics as well.

Bella Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a teenager

In 2013, things took a tragic turn for Hadid as she got diagnosed with Lyme disease at 18 years old.

Her mother Yolanda once shared on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: “I have two children that have severe, suppressed immune systems… Both Bella and Anwar have Lyme disease… We lived on a horse ranch. We had ticks everywhere, every day of our lives.”

According to the CDC, a person can succumb to Lyme disease if bitten by a black-legged tick that has been infected with certain disease-causing bacteria.

Once a person gets Lyme disease, he/she will experience flu-like symptoms at first, though if left untreated, the bacteria can infect other parts of the body such as the heart, joints, and nervous system. This can cause serious fatigue, body aches, and cognitive problems.

For Bella Hadid, she first noticed the symptoms of Lyme disease when she was a junior in high school. The symptoms were quite severe that they interfered with her daily life.

“I stopped driving because I kept crashing, because my brain just stopped working,” she recalled. “I was exhausted all the time. It affected my memory so I suddenly wouldn’t remember how to drive to Santa Monica from Malibu where I lived. I couldn’t ride. I was just too sick. And I had to sell my horse because I couldn’t take care of it.”

Bella Hadid left her Olympics dream behind and pursued modeling

The Lyme disease made Hadid unable to continue competitive horse-riding, so she ultimately gave up her dream of being in the Olympics. 

Yolanda Hadid wrote in a blog post on BravoTV’s website: “Bella had to give up her lifelong dream of having a professional riding career and a shot at the Olympics due to her severe symptoms and inability to ride. This was the biggest heartbreak of her life and an extremely sensitive subject for her.” 

However, after her diagnosis, Bella Hadid decided to focus on modeling while also getting holistic treatment for her Lyme disease.

Even though modeling was not her first choice career, she worked extremely hard at it and soon found herself at the top of the industry. In 2017, she was the youngest person on Forbes’ list of highest-paid models. Hadid also currently has a net worth of around $12 million.