How I came to work with Horses

Recently I was asked how I came to work with horses. At first it seemed like a strange question because horses have always been in my life and it seems natural to work with them.

My grandparents were avid horsemen, they were married at the local hunt club, oats were showered upon them celebrating their marriage, and I grew up at family outings on horseback. My grandmother was barely five feet tall, yet she handled enormous horses both on the ground and under saddle. She could lay her hand on a horses shoulder to calm them down or encourage them to do whatever she asked. I imagine I learned from her example through instinct. My sister and I spent hours in the barn taking care of every aspect of the horses, we were responsible for feed, turnout, vet care, grooming, cleaning…everything accept driving the tractor.

My first pony was a black Shetland, the most ornery creature you every met, he found great pleasure in dropping his shoulder to dislodge me from his back. We were not allowed to ride in a saddle until we mastered riding bareback. Almost every year or two I was given a new project horse, while my previous mount was handed down to my sister until I graduated to a very talented, athletic and spirited Appendix Quarter Horse, called Fella, who gave me the confidence to jump anything. He was bold and light on his feet, galloping over any obstacle– picnic tables which my brothers were seated at or my Uncles red MG. Needless to say, we were scolded for endangering family members, but it was too much fun. And it was great practice for competitions where we won many championships. He lived with me until he died when he was nearly 100 in human years, he was a great friend and teacher.

My entire family rides, some better than others. My sister is a western cutting champion as well as an avid fox hunter. One brother was a wrangler and will always be a cowboy at heart, the other rides on occasion but prefers his Cessna Cub. It seems natural that I am surrounded by horses.

Now I train horses and riders as well as selling horses. I find it very rewarding to find the perfect horse for someone to learn and grow with. In teaching, it has become a challenge to describe what I feel naturally to new riders and explain how to communicate with the horse. I encourage riders to leave the ring and enjoy a ride across the countryside, viewing the landscape from vantage points they would never see by the road. Leaving the ring also allows the riders to feel the horse and stop focusing so much on the technique. They naturally, they will adjust their balance going up and down hills without overthinking the details. The most important thing I try to teach is that learning to ride is like life, it is a constant journey, every day is different and you have to learn to relax and enjoy the moment.