The Teachers/ My Horses

The Beginning

I’m not sure we can afford a horse” said Mom. “Please” I begged.

See, since I was very young I loved hors­es. Loved play­ing with my toy hors­es, loved horse pic­tures and loved the ani­mals on the farm. Of course it was the farm life that I grew up on that made me fall in love with hors­es to begin with. My sis­ter and I grew up on a small farm, 8 acres to be exact but it bor­dered Pat­ap­sco State Park so we always felt like we had a lot more. Our fam­i­ly was of lim­it­ed means. We weren’t poor, we always had some­thing to eat but most of that food was grown and raised right there on the farm. It was that farm life and my hard-work­ing par­ents that taught me what it means to have a work eth­ic. Nei­ther of my par­ents were col­lege edu­cat­ed but they came from the era that you work and make some­thing of your­self. That they did.

But when you are young you just don’t have the con­cept of mon­ey that helps you fore­tell the cost and labor involved with own­ing a horse. Much to my luck, I did in fact get a horse.  Well, even­tu­al­ly.

My mom went on “I just want to make sure you are real­ly seri­ous.  Hors­es are a lot of mon­ey and respon­si­bil­i­ty”.

So it was agreed, I would find a lease first just to make sure.  Our near­by neigh­bor and friend of my Mom had a pret­ty safe Appaloosa that she agreed to lease us. I was thrilled. Arrow and I did lessons, 4-H and small local shows togeth­er.  Mean­while my Mom real­ized how into hors­es I real­ly was. So at some point, she caved. Horse shop­ping began. The prob­lem was find­ing a horse suit­able for me that we could afford.  I clear­ly remem­ber always being the girl with the inex­pen­sive, untal­ent­ed horse.

So, while all my pro­fes­sion­al peers grew up rid­ing school mas­ters, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the USDF young rid­ers pro­gram and build­ing a sol­id resume on cen­ter­line scores, I was busy with part-time jobs, clean­ing stalls and par­tic­i­pat­ing in slave labor as a work­ing stu­dent.

Fast for­ward 30 years.  I real­ize what was my great­est weak­ness became my great­est strength. All those years of rid­ing hors­es of lim­it­ed tal­ent shaped me into the rid­er I am today. I worked hard. I stud­ied hard. I rode any­thing. And most impor­tant­ly I found a way to train those less tal­ent­ed hors­es. While I have not rid­den or trained 100 hors­es, I have learned immense­ly through the deep con­nec­tion I have had with each and every horse that I have owned.

My cur­rent string of hors­es I pur­chased at a very young age and trained them up through the lev­els.  I have my Sil­ver and Bronze Medal through USDF and have com­pet­ed through Grand Prix Dres­sage.  I’ve had the help of many great coach­es through­out my 30 years of rid­ing dres­sage along with help from won­der­ful clin­i­cians that reg­u­lar­ly vis­it the area.

Ten years ago, I start­ed using pos­i­tive rein­force­ment reg­u­lar­ly and it has made a huge dif­fer­ence in my train­ing.  I am still learn­ing and I strive to be the best train­er I can pos­si­bly be.  While reward based train­ing is my method, being a com­pas­sion­ate train­er is my goal.  

Besides the life long pur­suit of dres­sage, I also enjoy hack­ing out, work­ing at lib­er­ty, long lin­ing and just spend­ing time with my “ponies”.

I cur­rent­ly have 3 hors­es that I own and train:

  1. Spring Hol­low Rain­dancer, a 16 year old Mor­gan geld­ing now school­ing FEI includ­ing piaffe and pas­sage.
  2. JC Encan­ta­dor Rey, a 7 year old Andalu­sian school­ing 3rd lev­el.
  3. Kodi­ak, the 3 year old, is get­ting intro­duced to rid­ing.


Rec­om­mend­ed Read­ing Next:

Teaching Horses To Love Learning


Why Reward Based Training Works


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