Hi everyone! This blog originated out of my desire to review horse products. I don’t have tons of money, so I’ve always tried to find reviews on products and do good research on what’s the best. Some things have reviews, but many many others don’t. So I wanted to write a blog with as many reviews as possible for people who don’t have a lot of money, but would like quality products – English or Western, for a good price. It has since morphed into a desire to document my (struggles, goofiness and bumpy) entrance into the world of eventing.
I actually struggled with making this blog. I’m a very private person, and don’t like being in the spotlight. But I wanted to help people, share my knowledge and tidbits about horses and small methods I’ve found in training that really help, as well as get wisdom and advice from people who do this way more than me. I do understand I don’t need to share anything and everything, but whenever I read a review, I like to know a bit about the person so I can make a further educated decision on something I’m buying. Besides, this is all about how horses have shaped my life and nothing else, so here goes:
I don’t ever remember not being into horses. From the time I can remember things about my childhood, I was always into horses. For family photos I always had to be the one on or touching the horse. I was really really horse crazy.
It helped that my mom was just as horsey, had a horse, and when I was six, started me doing lessons. We never had a lot of money, so I only had lessons once a week if that, and from a young age, my mom instilled in me the importance of cleaning and taking care of tack. I still, to this day, love taking apart my leather and meticulously cleaning it, even better than cleaning my room or dishes or anything else like that.
My dad was military, so we moved a bit, but thankfully not as much as other families did. But everywhere we went, we took my mom’s horse (even to Hawaii), and always looked for a place with lessons. I mostly rode ponies – wonderful, difficult trainers those things are. My two all-time favorite lesson horses though, were an old Morgan named Tony and a feisty pony aptly named Air Myles.
I rode Tony when I was seven. He was a grouchy old boy, and a bit tricky to ride for kids who weren’t soft-handed. I remember watching this kid pull on him, and his ears flicked back and I just remember him looking so upset about it that my little seven-year old brain swore that when I rode him I wouldn’t pull like that. I do remember trying to be kind to him and loving on him, and while I’m not too sure if he responded better to me than others (of course my seven-year-old brain was sure he did), he was my favorite.
He helped me win my first ever blue ribbon when I was eight. I had been on the wrong diagonal almost the whole class, but either others were wrong too or we sold it better – I don’t know. But I miss it because that show called the places sixth to first instead of first on down, so the tension was palpable. There were only two of us left, and my heart was pounding, and one of us wasn’t getting a ribbon, and I was dead sure it was me. Cue the cliché surprise and dumbfounded-ness when they called me for first place, but man, do I remember that wonderful class. Tony and I had some other wonderful memories, most of which are fuzzy compared to the clarity of those two above.
At that same place I rode ponies Lacey and Tina, and I also rode (I think) a grey paint named Cochise and did a bit of teensy starter jumping while I was there. That was a wonderful barn.
Then we moved to Hawaii, and for the next four years my lesson horse was the large pony Air Myles. I loved this little guy. He had such personality, and boy did he teach me how to ride. He would test everybody (unless he knew you very very well), and he’d give a few pointed bucks in the beginning of every ride. If you stayed on, plus to you. If you managed to stay on and give him a good smack with your crop, he would grudgingly accept your leadership for the lesson.
He loved to jump and I loved jumping him. Had a few embarrassing first shows that I look back and think, I should NOT have jumped before I had a good jumping position, but I remember I learned a lot from showing and having bad form. That little pony was such a blast and I loved riding him.
We showed and showed and he loved to jump, but was a right ass in flat classes, but I actually won a trophy because of it. The judges decided who won the classes by seeing what rider was more determined to handle their pony’s antics. Which, as an adult looking back, sounds like an awesome class to watch, but for an eleven year old whose pony was acting up, it was not fun. He sure was in rare form that day and was worse than usual. And worse than the other pony which actually helped me to win the class. Funny funny.
For about two years he bucked with me every ride. And every ride after a quick smack he’d go about his business like nothing happened. There really is no other way to describe this next part – it’s really just a feeling I had that I remember – but I had hopped on one day, and he humped up to get started, and I just let him have three good smacks right then. And it just felt like he smiled, said “That’s my girl!” and he never again bucked after that. It was just the strangest thing. Like “I’ve taught you well” or something. I still can’t really describe it.
By the end of our time in Hawaii, I was too big for him. I remember holding out, not wanting to ride the bigger lesson horses she had because I wanted to stay on him. I was really heartbroken I was leaving him. He was the closest thing I had to a “my own horse.” He’d nicker for me when I called him. He’d nose me as I cleaned his stall. After every ride he’d get hosed off and loved rolling in the grass while wet and then I’d brush him again and he’d just give me this glare. I always laughed. He was such a character. I actually still have the halter and lead rope I bought for him. I can’t bear to part with it.
About two years later, I got a chance to go back to Hawaii with my parents. We contacted my coach and asked if while I was there if I could see him and ride him. She was wonderful and said yes. I nearly cried when I called out to him and he gave me the biggest whinny like “where have you been?!”. I saddled him up and hopped on, and there was no bucking; he just felt ready to spring forward like “let’s go have FUN!”. My coach let us go down to the little field of cross country-ish jumps, and there was this wall that I should have jumped but at the time was intimidated. (What am I doing now?! Lol) But that was so much fun to do that. I think that was what inspired me to always have a place on my bucket list of “trying cross-country” even though I’m not a huge risk-taker.
If you couldn’t tell, I loved and still love that pint-sized guy.
Shortly thereafter, my mom got a new horse. Her loyal Arab mare was developing very acute arthritis, so before she had to make the tough decision to put her down, we went horse searching, and found this gem. She was so different from all of our previous rides combined – she was a Quarter Horse, and trained western pleasure on top of that. We actually had been looking at another horse, and when it sold, the lady told us to just hear her out, and contact this guy she knew who had a horse for sale. We almost didn’t look at her. My mom wanted a bay gelding. This was a liver chestnut mare. But there she was in these pictures, following this little girl in a giant pasture. So we got videos. She was only four, and the trainer had his seven year old hop on her, and lope her in this huge pasture. We knew then we had to snap her up. She has been an absolute doll. She is half mine on paper, but she’s really all my mom’s. She’s bonded with her, and I am so thankful because that mare really takes care of my mom. I couldn’t ask for anything better in a horse.
For three years both me and my mom rode and showed her, and had a blast. She was always sweet and willing and everyone that met her loved her. At that time, my dad actually asked me if I would want my own horse, and I actually turned him down. I know – WHAAAAAT?! What horse-crazy teenager wouldn’t want their own horse?! But, I knew that in a short time I’d go to college, and I had no way to keep that horse with me so far away. I know I surprised my dad for sure by making the decision, but I remember saying it wouldn’t be fair to that horse if we bought them and I couldn’t give them the time they deserved.
So, after two years of college in Colorado at CSU as an Equine Science major, I finally got to take the colt training class. And there I met my heart horse Amber. She was the first horse I ever trained from the ground up, and by the end of the class, I determined that if I didn’t at least try to buy her, I’d regret it my whole life. So after a bit of a back and forth and wonderful people, she was mine. She was with me for my remaining year in college, and I have to say that was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had with a horse. She really and truly was mine in every sense of the phrase. We trusted each other and did stupid things that now I would not advise people to do on two-year-olds, but thankfully nothing happened and we were okay. I loved that time with her. I couldn’t get to her as much as I’d wanted because of two independent study horses I was training in my last year, but she’d always be there looking for me when I went outside to feed her. Then she went home to Las Vegas for my mom to take care of her for a year when I got a job with horse trainer in Texas.
I worked in Texas for a reining trainer, breaking two-year-olds and generally learning the starting tricks of the trade. Texas is a giant hub for horse-related activities, so I got to meet tons of people and put my degree to use, which was really quite awesome. I learned how to really drive a truck and trailer, got some great following experience on breeding and how that goes down, foaling out mares, and giving meds. I really learned a lot there.
But I also realized that training wasn’t for me. Some horses weren’t so hard to watch when they sold – sometimes they were too young to even work with so I didn’t get to know them, and others were just not right fits for us – but many others were lovely lovely horses, and it was difficult to see them go because I loved them. I had spent so much time with them and ended up forming a bond with them. It was hard to see them go, especially (dare I say) to people who probably wouldn’t put the horse’s needs first.
While it was an amazing experience, after riding so many different horses, I realized I am a one or two horse person. At the end of the day, even after riding these talented horses, all I wanted was to go see my girl, and hop on her. Amber was with me for my second year in Texas until I fully accepted that training, or at least being a trainer of many horses, was not for me, and I headed home. Since I didn’t have my own trailer, my parents came to pick me up and help take me and my pony home.
Since coming back here, I’ve really settled back into the amateur life. I love it that way. I have my one horse, get to spend as much time with her as I want without feeling pressured to have others to ride, and she and I have a wonderful bond. I love being able to go see her, have her maul me for scratches when I muck her stall, and watch her play and buck when she’s feeling extra frisky. I seriously have never been able to interact with horses the way I have with her. I swear she speaks – with her eyes and ears and expressions, of course – but she has such life and personality and love that many times I can’t imagine having the room in my heart to fit another horse in there. She is my whole life and makes my life absolutely whole.
I have a bit of a…unique situation. After being on my own for 6 years, it’s quite strange to come back and live with parents. Part of the issue is housing – it’s quite expensive to rent in Las Vegas unless you’re splitting it with a roommate, and really, I’d rather not have one. Which is ironic, because living at home gives me two roommates, but alas, I digress. But my dog is there (okay, she’s my mom’s dog too but she follows us around equally), the one we’ve had for 13 years, and I’ve missed having her around all the time. She’s such a lap dog (and will obviously be in here occasionally), and I’ve been away from her for so long that I miss her terribly now if I don’t snuggle with her at some point in the day. So it’s okay for me. Plus, animals are life, and I’ve always understood them more than people, so the more animals the better. (You could say I’m sorta antisocial…)
Besides, at this point now, it’s either live with my parents and have Amber in my backyard (I mean, who wouldn’t?!), or get an apartment and still have to drive to go see her. So, rooming with my parents it is. Which, if all goes to plan in a few years, I may buy a nice live-in trailer so I’m on property but it’s like a sort-of apartment. Although where all my clothes will go is way beyond me.
In 2016, one of my friends from Texas told me in passing that I should check out the Rolex 3-Day and watch and root for Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair. I hadn’t paid attention to anything eventing before then, but it sounded like a fun way to spend a weekend. Although honestly, the biggest reason for me tuning in was I was super curious to see what the horse looked like and how he did because I loved the name! I missed dressage on Thursday and Friday because work, but tuned in Saturday for the cross-country. I swear I jumped every single jump with every single rider because when I watched showjumping on Sunday, my butt was sore. But I watched it, Maya Black ended up 3rd, and I was officially hooked. And, coincidentally, it was the year for summer Olympics, so not only did I watch Rolex, I watched the Olympics, and the new Event Rider Masters series in England started – all in 2016. It was a great year for eventing, and a great year for me to get into it. So much to watch!
And sometime, when I was watching one leg of the Event Rider Masters series for the third time, I realized I was still jumping with all of them. I still sighed in disappointment when they had a rail down. I still said “awwww” when they had a run-out or a refusal. I gasped when they hit a frangible pin or when they came off of their horse. I was shaking with excitement and anticipation when I was watching it – even though I’d already watched it twice.
I realized at that moment, watching cross-country, that I had never felt that excitement for any discipline I’d ridden up to that point – not hunters, not western pleasure, not trail, not reining. But I was shaking watching those runs. Eventing has grabbed a hold of me, and I don’t see it letting up any time soon. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t.
I know I will still retain my love of western – reining or pleasure – but I’ve also found I love every facet of horseback riding. I love the classical ways of dressage, I love the technicality of showjumping, I love the fearlessness and character of the event horses, I love the finesse and difficulty of reining, I love the classic position of equitation over fences, and I love watching those super cowy horses get down in the dirt. Eventing is such a wonderful compromise – three different disciplines in one! I think that’s a big part of what draws me to it.
So, here I am, with my seven-year-old horse, in Las Vegas where there is no eventing, hoping to do some eventing. I know there are events in Arizona and California, but it’d be a bit easier if there were things a little closer. Thankfully there are dressage teachers and jumper teachers around, and one of the teachers used to event so I can pick her brain. But, there’s not much. I know it’ll probably take a few years before we venture to our first event because of time and money and my things-I-want-to-do list, but it’ll just be a game of patience and training. We’re both new to it.
For now, though, our journey is just starting.