Horses have been in my life for a half century – in my heart and soul for even longer. When I was ten I was not a highly skilled rider, but there was something about me that prompted my instructor to put me on a scared and mentally damaged Thoroughbred mare, quite fresh off the track. From that mare I learned how empathy and patience can accomplish things that dominance and bullying never can.
I spent much of my youth living at poverty level. I was blessed that my mother recognized the value of horses in my life, and we both mucked stalls to pay for my lessons. When we finally had some extra money, we acquired a car first, followed by a horse – and we have not been without horses in our family ever since.
I have been exposed to a broad range of riding disciplines – from eventing to roping. For me, it has always been about the horse – the activity is secondary, and must suit the horse not only physically but mentally.
As for the discipline that most suits me – that is Dressage. I fell in love with it through a few mentors who believed in it as a solid foundation for any discipline. Two were Dressage trainers/judges, and two were hunter/jumper trainers – but you could hardly tell their core training principles apart. Sadly, today’s competitive Dressage bears little resemblance to the systematic, empathetic, methodical training I was exposed to.
I have worked with a wide range of equines – from Arabs to Mustangs to highly-bred Warmbloods. I have gained the trust of the wild, and rebuilt trust in those who long ago gave it up. I have taught ranch horses to be “natural jumpers” and ex-racehorses to be model trail horses. I do not have Olympic medals to my name – but I have five decades of befriending every horse I work with. My goal in life, and with this blog, is to pass along the knowledge I’ve gained, share some anecdotes, and review books that will enrich your life with horses. I hope that readers of this blog will find it helpful in their own journey to being an educated rider on an educated horse!