Mother Nature has hit again! We are covered in ice and the barn (and me) lost power and no lights = no riding. Shout out though to TD, TS, and our barn staff for ALL that they do! Winter in Michigan is not easy yo!
I figured that it would be a good time to do a blog hop. I first read this on HelloMyOlivia’s page WAY back in November and thought it would be fun. I think that it is a fun way for readers to get to know you and now that I am really looking at and thinking about the questions a fun way of doing a little introspection.
1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling? I actually did play team sports in high school. I played both softball and basketball but basketball was by far my favorite of the two. I think I liked it better because it was the only contact sport for girls. I loved pushing my way around down in the paint. (Uh I might have some aggression issues but let’s push that aside for now.) Even as an adult I enjoyed playing team sports until I blew my knee out two years in a row playing co-ed football.
Horses (and all animals) have always been a huge part of my life though. I love the unspoken connection you can get with them and testing that connection through various forms of riding. I am going to get a little emotionally deep here so buckle up. I also think that a big part of why I worked so hard to be a competitive rider (not just a for funsies backyard rider) as a kid was to set myself apart in my family. My sister is 5 and a half years older than me and she was a natural born athlete. She played a few sports but softball was her love and I was always “B’s little sister”. She was known as the athlete and pretty one and I was the smart one who needed to lose a few pounds. My sister was the Homecoming rep for her class 2 of 4 years and she might still hold the record for most stolen bases for our school. (This was not a label that my sister created! She is my best friend and my biggest fan and I am her’s. It was just how our small community, and my family, fostered.) Riding and showing are what set me apart. It is MY thing and MINE only! And I was good! I grew up with a very loving family but there were also some very hurtful things that my mom would say about my weight. The barn became my safe space and solace. It still is and if I could never compete another day in my life, sure I would be sad, but it would still be the place I run to when I need to breathe.
2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid? I started riding when I was 7 at the hunter jumper barn that I am at now with the same trainers that I ride with now. I did my first horse show there. Walk/trot on a school horse named Tag. I was the only one in the class so I got first. I remember that day so clearly. My cousin told me good job as she gave me the ribbon and my response was, “I was the only one in the class. They had no choice but to give me first.” To which she promptly responded, “well you could have sucked so much they didn’t give you anything and told you to leave the ring.” Touche
I rode there a couple of years but when I was 9 my mom’s friend, J, wanted to sell her horse, Odie, and just needed someone to take the time to ride her get her to lose some weight. She didn’t have time so she boarded Odie at the barn across the street and over one house from me. Odie was a super broke, palamino quarter horse in that anyone could hop on her and go but she didn’t have any fine skills. I wasn’t taking any formal lessons with the trainer there but she would watch me ride and give me tips. Eventually, she went to my parents and said that I had potential and wanted to know if she could take me to a couple shows. My parents said yes and Odie’s owner figured it would help her eventual sale so she agreed to. A couple of shows turned into a whole season! Odie was clearly a western pleasure QH so we showed that but english was my first love so I forced her to do that as well. Lol. After Odie was sold, my parents were still not ready to buy a horse so my trainer went out and found me a pony that a couple bought for their grandchildren but it was not grandchildren ready. She convinced them to board it at her house and I would put in the finishing training for free if I got to show it. After that I was able to charge a small amount to ride and show people’s horses until I was able to pay for my own when I was 12. At that time I had been doing just local open shows but starting to go to a lot more QH circuit shows. I was riding in any class that the owner wanted me to but when I was 13 my trainer and I really started to focus on dressage. She even set me up with a professional dressage instructor for weekly lessons. Can I just say that dressage shows are run so much better than an HJ show?
3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be? This is a hard one. My best show horse was by far this cute little bay QH who was only about 15.2 hands named April. She could CLEAN up in any ring you put her in. Seriously, we would win in a western pleasure class then literally the next day kick ass in the dressage ring! She reminds me of Luther though in the fact that she hated the world and would bite you, kick you, and smash you to the wall but she loved her one person. Luckily for me at our barn that was me and when I sold her to this nice couple it was the wife she loved. Lol.
But the horse that I would want back is tied between Jamison and Chester. Jamison was a 16.2 hand, solid bay appy with a white “J” that I was originally hired to ride right after I graduated college but I ended up keeping him until he got cancer. He was actually purchased by his owner to be a western pleasure show horse but he clearly would rather be a hunter. We never competed so I didn’t bother measuring our jumps but I would guess that we were regularly doing 2’3″ to 2’6″. That is based off the scientific measurement in my head that there was a decent amount of space between the rail and a straw bale. He was all heart though. If I pointed him at something he trusted me to at least try. I also never felt the slightest unsafe with him. I miss him every day!
Jamison was all heart but 2’6″ would probably be his upper limit which is why Chester is in this tie. I bought him as a 4 year old and he was already 17.1 hands. He was a solid chestnut appy with tigering on his muzzle and around his eyes. (Wait, do I have a thing for appys and didn’t know it????) To this day he is the calmest horse I have ever met in my life! My friends used to joke that I had to have pot growing in my pasture cause dude barely ever had his eyes open. It wasn’t until he was 5 that I started popping him over some fences. For the first time in a year he opened his eyes! He was a natural! Knees tucked and he seemed to have no limit to the height. Since I just started him I didn’t push him too much but we got up to breezing over a 4′ single fence with plenty of air under him. He never ran down a line but his stride was so damn big that he didn’t need to. I sold him because he was not working out as a dressage horse but he is my adult ammy hunter unicorn!
4. What disciplines have you participated in? Hunters, dressage, western, gymkhana (does a gambler’s choice class count as doing jumpers??)
5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day? I would love to say eventing but at this point in my life, I don’t think I have the balls to do it. I definitely don’t have the balls to do it on Winifred since you can’t even walk him out into the field.
6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue? I bought an OTTB from a rescue. He legit had the most beautiful trot of any horse I have ever ridden! Sadly, I had to give him back to the rescue to be a pasture pal for someone after a jack ass driving down the road (the barn I was had the riding arena was right on the road but a barely traveled on dirt road) thought it would be funny to honk his horn at us. Gavin lost his mind! He spun right into the stone wall fence and I ended up coming off and hurt my knee really bad. The guy drove off leaving me there by myself. Gavin had fractured his cannon bone when he crashed into the fence but limped his way into the barn where someone was cleaning stalls.
7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid? April, who I mentioned before. She was truly a bitch to everyone else but we had a connection.
8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be? I love the English countryside and it would be amazing to ride there.
9. Do you have any horse-related regrets? Hmmmmm……. Maybe selling Chester and not seeing where he could develop in the HJ world but then again if I had kept him I would not have gotten April and learned the lessons she had to teach me. Maybe my biggest regret is not finding a sugar daddy to support my habit when I was hot enough to probably get one. LOL
10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be? Probably Karen O’Connor. She was the first big named female riding that I followed as a kid. Plus anyone who has the balls to ride a friggin’ PONY at Rolex (ok now the Land Rover three-day event) is just amazing!
11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list? One “item“???? If we are taking this literal and looking at an actual “item” I can’t really say because everything I would want would be based on the horse that I am riding at the moment. I would like to upgrade my saddle I guess but that doesn’t really seem bucket-list worthy. If we are opening up the meaning, then I would like a >17 hand Spotted Irish Sporthorse that is dead broke enough cart me around and build me up enough to jump 3’6″ and do international derbies.
12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses? This was a real possibility when I had to have back surgery and yes, I still went out to the barn. I was out there literally the day I got home from the hospital breaking two rules that day: 1. No driving (I live next door so not a big deal) and 2. Not being on my feet for more than 20 minutes at a time.
13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal? First, I would have to have won the lottery and purchased the horse I mentioned in #11. I would love to compete on the A circuit.
14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most? Tough one because I think they all have taught me something. Winifred is still trying to teach me to sit back. Lol. I think April though. She is a LONG story but the short of it is that she was abused. I eventually bought her from my trainer but it was my trainer who rescued her. We weren’t sure if she would live but she was a fighter. When I say that shew as a bitch it was for a reason but she taught me patience, trust, and loyalty. She also taught me lots of riding skills cause she was not a fan of anyone on her back for quite some time. Lol
15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be? I absolutely love Winifred, I do, but he really isn’t the horse I would pick if I had my choice. First, he is a very nervous horse. I can generally handle him on the flat but since I have taken a few falls and have had major surgeries like my back and knee I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bit nervous over fences too. It is a mental block that I need to get over because when I am nervous I make mistakes and Winifred does not handle mistakes kindly. He needs a strong confident rider or he stops. I was that when we started together but then I had a show where he revved up to a jump and I thought we were taking off so I tipped but he changed his mind and I went FLYING! I came off 3 times at that show because he just grabbed the bit and ran but then slammed the brakes. It is because I needed to sit hard like a jumper rider and make him take more stride but now I second guess my spots. This is just a mental block and I am working my way through it but it would be nice to work my way through it on a horse that can say, “don’t worry, I will take us over this even if you make a mistake.”
16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be? Man, these questions are making me feel like I suffer from a lack of dreams. Shit, I just want to get through a home show with no falls and feeling 100% confident.
17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice? The Olympics or WEG
18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses? I have thought that I suck enough that I should quit jumping but never riding.
19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be? The abuse that happens.
20.What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well? I have no answer for this one.
21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of? This one is easy…… getting hurt. I have been laid up in the hospital having full body seizures because the disc between my 2 fractured vertebrae was compressing my spinal cord. Not gonna lie that scared the shit out of me!! That is the reason for my mental block with jumping right now. I have been there, I have felt excruciating pain and complete loss of mobility. That sticks with you.
22. What horse-related book impacted you the most? Horses for Dummies! Lol. I have not read that but my friend and I gave that to our barn-mate as her wedding gift. Lol. I have not started it yet but I am hoping that Brain Training for Riders: Unlock Your Riding Potential with StressLess Techniques for Conquering Fear, Improving Performance, and Finding Focused Calm may become a positive impact on my life soon.
23.What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most? Calm confidence and just the opposite nervousness
24. What do you love most about your discipline? The feeling of flying with another being that you have to silently communicate with. For real it is such an adrenaline rush!
25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment? My confidence