If you are an adult riding horses, there’s a good chance that you’ve been riding since you were a kid & have been doing it for most of your life. Even if you started riding horses later in life, I’m sure you’ve always had a sort of affinity for them growing up but maybe riding wasn’t something you could do until now. I was both unlucky & lucky in that department – I did get to ride when I was younger, but not consistently & I fell out of it for a few years before jumping back in. While I mainly do dressage at the moment I didn’t start out doing dressage & didn’t even know it was a thing until I got older & started looking at the various disciplines that I might want to do. My riding story is very humble in that I never showed, I never went places with the horses I rode & I didn’t always have horses in my life.
I suppose it all started with my parents – my mom specifically. When she was growing up, her aunt used to breed & ride racehorses for a living, so she was always around them. She used to tell me stories of things she would do on horses & some rather scary misadventures she had while on trail rides – I guess you could say that she rubbed off on me & that’s how I got so horse obsessed. I was always that one kid in school that had horses on everything – clothes, backpack, shoes, toys, books, etc. & all I watched were horse movies (I can hear the Spirit soundtrack now). Needless to say, it was only a matter of time before I’d finally get the chance to actually sit on a horse instead of playing pretend & riding on my dad’s back. As fun as that might’ve been, nothing ever compares to the real thing.
I know when I talk about this in my Instagram posts I always tell you guys I was 10, but the more I think about it the more I know I’m completely wrong about that & I started out much younger – like maybe 6 or 7? It was a gift from my big sister Joanna on either my birthday or for Christmas. It’s hard to discern because California has the same weather all year round & I’m a summer baby so basically any pictures we took it was always sunny outside – but I’m pretty sure it was a Christmas gift so we’re going to go with that. She had gotten me vouchers for two free lessons at this one facility (who’s name escapes me) & I was ecstatic. Finally, all my dreams of galloping off into the sunset on my noble steed were finally going to come true…. kind of. While we did no galloping, I did have a noble steed which means half of my dream came true & I’m alright with that.
As you can guess, going into my first lesson, I was pumped. The thing about me being excited about something (even in adulthood) is that there’s a good chance I’m not focusing on anything else – except the thing I really want to do which in that moment was riding a horse. This also means that there’s a good chance that I wasn’t paying attention to anything else going on around me or to important details or instructions about how to operate such things like a horse. While I don’t remember specifics about grooming the horse or anything like that, I’m 99% I just rushed the poor instructor until it was time to get on. I didn’t care about brushing the horse, I could barely reach anyway! Just sit me on there, slap it’s butt & away I’d go!
I remember the horse I got to be with was this super old mare named TB. She was chill, knew that I was quack job & that she had to toll me around for the next 30 minutes – I’m sure she was pumped too. TB had the sweetest demeanor & you could tell she’d been doing this for a long time. My sister, Mikaela (6 or 7 as well; we’re 6 months apart in age) also got riding lessons & she was on this much bigger, flashy white gelding. Not going to lie, 6 yr. old me was actually kind of jealous – she was on my noble steed! Regardless, I was very determined to enjoy my lesson & learn all that I could.
Our lesson was very slow, as would be expected for someone who had never ridden before. We did lots of walking & TB was great at it! I remember walking with TB & seeing Mikaela & her horse trotting or even sometimes cantering (he was a little unruly) & while I wanted to be the one doing all that stuff I was very grateful to be taking it slow. I of course learned all the in & outs of horseback riding like stopping, turning, going forward. I eventually moved up to trotting, in my second lesson which was a major success for me!
I only had to ride TB twice to know that my love for horses was undeniable. Unfortunately, because of my prosthetic the facility no longer allowed me to take lessons. They saw me as too much of a liability & no longer saw me fit to ride. I was devastated to say the least & didn’t really ride much after that. My cousins (super close in age to us) both had their own horses & did hunter jumper & so when we would go visit them I’d get to ride my younger cousins pony, Tigger. He was the first horse I ever fell off of & also the first horse I got back on after I fell after a lot of coaxing from my aunt. Riding with my cousins was very sparse & it was more like pony rides than actual riding, but it was all I had. I eventually completely fell out of riding once my life went into the toilet when I was around 9 or so, but I did pick it back up a few years later when I got my own horse. But, that’s a tale for another blog that is on it’s way.
I hope this gave a little insight into my little riding career. I know a ton of you have been riding your entire lives & I’m so happy for you but I want to encourage others that maybe haven’t been around horses their whole lives or maybe right now aren’t riding. It’s so weird how life just kind of works itself out & everything just kind of comes into fruition. If you keep working towards whatever goal you are going for whether that be riding more, owning a horse, becoming a trainer or pro, or even if it’s not horse related – it’s going to happen. I honestly never even thought about riding again until my volleyball career ended. I thought volleyball was going to be my life until one day it wasn’t & riding horses seemed like the right thing to do even though I hadn’t done it in years. So, just keep going after what you want & if one day you decide you don’t want to do it anymore, another door will open for you, you just have to be ready for it.