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