When I was 7yrs old, my mom signed my 2 brothers and myself up for horseback riding lessons. That summer activity changed the course of my life. I rode a plain brown horse named Nimrod while my twin brother rode a beautiful all white gelding with brown ears and the most beautiful blue eyes named Abercrombie (Abbers for short), and my little brother got a fat chestnut quarter horse with a big white blaze named Bogus.
It’s been almost 30yrs since that summer day, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. The nervous, excited, butterfly feeling as we pulled into the driveway of the farm. The smell of horses and hay and manure in the barn, that even then I found strangely pleasant. I remember my brothers and I riding along, making our fingers into imaginary guns like cowboys in a western.
We rode once a week that summer, learning the basics under the tutelage of a wonderful instructor named Nancy. I fell off my 3rd lesson when a horse in the arena went berzerk and my horse spun to avoid it, dumping me and scraping my elbow. I was more afraid that I would’t be allowed back on as they cleaned up my arm than of getting back on faithful Nimrod. I was hooked. But winter came, and back in the ’80’s indoor arenas were a rare commodity. We quit for the winter, but come spring I begged to go back.
Apparently I was something of a natural. I ate, slept and breathed horses. At home, I would run around pretending to be a horse; trotting and cantering around my parent’s house, assembling jump courses out of old boxes and brooms, and creating a stable of my own in my head complete with a string of horses with their own names, personalities, and quirks inspired by the school horses I rode each week.
I had the most amazing childhood filled with horseback riding lessons. I rode at many different barns, eventually taking 2 or 3 lessons a week. I joined 4H. I horse showed in the local hunter division. I leased a couple horses. I fell in love with everything I rode. And I begged at every opportunity for a horse. For my 13th birthday, my wish was granted.
I have many stories of my younger years with horses. I’ve ridden hundreds of horses, I think. I can’t even remember half of the horses I’ve sat on. I’ve worked in the horse world as often as I could starting in the sixth grade as a volunteer for a summer camp where I was paid in trail rides. I’ve mucked my share of stalls. So much so that I’m now permanently injured with what I believe to be severe carpal tunnel and am unable to clean a barn like I used to. Right out of high school, I went to Wilson College in PA and was a double Equine major. I did not graduate. Mainly because I thought I would be better served learning the business in an actual barn, not a class room. So I quit after a year, certified as an instructor and began working as a stable hand in a fancy boarding barn.
I’ve worked in both large and small barns. Backyard operations all the way up to A rated Show stables. I even ran my own stable for 6 years. I’ve dabbled in horse rescue, taught beginner riding lessons all the way up to kids doing A rated show jumpers! Let me tell you, I feel like I’ve done it all. I know that I haven’t, and everyone still has a stuff to learn, but with all this experience, I’ve definitely picked up a thing or two!
At heart I am a teacher. Of all the things I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed being a riding instructor the most. In this blog I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way. The horse world is an interesting place. It’s good, it’s bad, and it’s sometimes ugly. I would like to share all of that with you. If you have questions, or there is a particular subject that interests you, please let me know in the comments. As always, it’s my goal to help people enjoy horses. My early life was filled with the joy of horses and I’m determined to share that with as many people as I possibly can, for I am an equestrian!
“I’m an equestrian
I’m a little horse crazy, and that’s ok
I spend all my money on leather and hay
I am….an equestrian!”
-an excerpt from a silly song I wrote and sing at times.