Hi, hello. There’s been an awful lot going on lately. I will let you in on it in a future post. I honestly developed something of a block about how to write about it all; I feel like I have a lot to say but couldn’t quite figure out how to say it all.
So it was perfect timing for Amanda over at the $900 Facebook Pony to start this 25 questions prompt.
Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
I tried a lot of different sports in high school. None of them lit me up like riding does. It’s a lifelong sport, you can never master – you always have more to learn. And the partnership between horse and rider can’t be beat. There’s no other feeling like it.
What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
I started weekly riding lessons at age 9, which fairly quickly turned into half-leasing horses and by the time I was 12 my parents purchased a horse, Goldie, that my mom and I could share. A few years later we added a second horse to the family so my mom and I each had one.
I started out riding Western Pleasure and was a total barn rat. We did a lot of trail riding, too. After awhile I realized Western Pleasure wasn’t for me, so I dabbled in barrels for a summer, and finally switched to “English riding” which I now realized was eventing. My parents didn’t love me jumping so it was all extremely low-level. I schooled cross country a couple of times, but by then my horse, Moses, was on-and-off lame and we didn’t make it out to compete before he died. And after that I took a break from horses.
If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
I’m not sure. I think the horses I had all shaped me into the rider I’ve become. I guess maybe I’d go back and change things so I’d SELL Cash earlier and get Moses sooner, and make it so I got to keep him into old age.
What disciplines have you participated in?
Western Pleasure, barrels (kind of), trail, hunter/jumpers, eventing.
What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
Man, this one is tough because I just started eventing not too long ago and that’s really been my dream discipline for so long. I love it. But maybe foxhunting, endurance or competitive trail would be fun!
Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?
Nope. But if I ever find the funds to own a horse as an adult, I plan to go through a Thoroughbred aftercare organization and get an OTTB.
What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?
Thoroughbreds! I loved that Thoroughbred book series by Joanna Campbell. The first book is called A Horse Called Wonder. Maybe I should go back and reread some of them a la Bel Joeor’s series of reviews on The Black Stallion.
If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?
Well, I got to fulfill my dream of riding in Ireland over the summer. I think love to live and ride there. It’s beautiful, the quality of horses is great and the Irish are a
crazy brave set. Plus, foxhunting all winter.
Do you have any horse-related regrets?
Yes and no. I am happy with where I have ended up, and everything in my past led me here. But I regret not catching Moses’ white line disease sooner. I regret not going for it and trying eventing properly sooner. I also have general regrets about not being a better horseperson before I knew everything I know now about proper care, but then I remind myself that that’s dumb because I have always done my best with the knowledge I had at the time.
If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?
I can only choose one? This is tough because there are a lot of people I look up to as riders and/or good horsepeople, but I also know that doesn’t always translate into being a good teacher. So, no, I haven’t answered the question at all. So maybe I’ll just say, whoever trained Michael Jung? Just kidding (kind of). I would actually quite like to ride with Charlotte Dujardin, as she seems to be a fairly good teacher from what I’ve read.
What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
Well, there are a lot of things on the bucket list ranging from riding in certain locations to meeting specific goals. I guess for this one I’ll go with competing at the AEC’s because that is an experience I’d really like to have one day.
If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
Yes, I’d still want to be involved in horses in some way.
What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
This is a funny question for me because I’ve noticed the answer evolving, particularly this summer. It used to just be “become an eventer.” Then, “compete at Novice.” I didn’t used to think I’d necessarily need to compete at Training or higher – the jumps looked too big and too solid. Now, I’ve gone around at Novice for a season and Training doesn’t look so big. Am I ready for it now? No. Could I get there? Yeah, definitely. As far as “biggest fantasy riding goal” – could I see myself even going around Prelim sometime in the future? Yes, I think so. Obviously a lot of things would have to fall into place for that to happen but this is a fantasy.
What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
They’ve all taught me so much, but if I have to pick one it will be Cash. He was a nutjob and I got hurt riding him more than any other horse so far. He taught me about horsemanship and tenacity, and also when to let go and realize something isn’t working. He taught me that I don’t have to ride the hardest horses. It’s okay to choose a ride that, if not ‘easier,’ then is at least safer.
If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
Easy. I’d own my own horse, or at least be able to continue leasing indefinitely.
If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
Kentucky Horse Park.
If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
Badminton or Burghley.
Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
Yes, I did quit horses for almost 4 years. Moses died, I was in college, and it was just easier to stop. Eventually, I came back to it as an adult out of school and haven’t looked back since.
If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
The expense to participate. I would remove that barrier to entry and hopefully more people would have access to it. (And I could own a horse and compete to my heart’s content.)
What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Digging a stupid Weldon’s Wall ditch by hand.
As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
Getting seriously injured. It’s not so much while I’m actually riding, but when I’m not around horses, I sometimes have these awful mental images of what could go horribly, horribly wrong.
What horse-related book impacted you the most?
You know, I haven’t picked up a horse book recently. I ought to go back to reading more.
What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
I value a calm, thinking horse. I dislike dishonest spooky horses that seem to want you to fall off.
What do you love most about your discipline?
Cross country! Just kidding, sort of. I love the partnership that develops when you do the three different phases. Different skills and communication styles are required in each phase, and I love that feeling of trust and understanding that builds between the horse and rider.
What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?
I’m always trying to improve my back/hands/connection, but honestly at this point in the year, I’ve taken a step back from constantly pushing to improve and am just enjoying riding Duke. That means sometimes we do a good dressage school, and sometimes I ride him bareback around the perimeter of the pastures once and focus on snugs and scritches.