Sometimes you just need a simple question and answer post to blog without feeling like you’re really blogging. Lazyness, am I right? Thank you to Amanda at $900 Facebook Pony for these fun questions!
Is this considered blogging clickbait? Is that a thing?
Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
I used to do sane sports, but horses just took over. Before starting riding, my parents signed me up for dance, which I kept up with until little kid me started having fits when I didn’t get to wear the sparkly leotards in competitions, and swimming, which I chose to let go once we realized riding was going to be “my thing.” I was pretty decent on my swim team as a kid and part of me regrets not keeping it up, but ponies took precedence over the pool. For parts of middle and high school, when I was already riding, I did cheerleading but decided to ditch it after a few years.
I was naturally a good rider when I was younger and, like any self-conscious kid, I wanted to keep doing what I was excelling at. My mom having had a horse when she was younger definitely helped the situation, and then I was in too deep to ever want to leave.
What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
How about my lack thereof? As a kid, I was a classic “backyard bobo” as one might say—I rode any horse I could in neon pants, ratty half chaps, and a bulbous Troxel. Because Angel, my first horse, was a bit crazy (for lack of a better word) when we first got her, I didn’t show for years. When I finally did, it was at little local shows that gave blue ribbons to anyone who got their horse through the in-gate.
Later, I looked on at the hunter/jumper kids I knew in awe as I started 4-H when I was 12 and competed all the way up to regionals, the highest level show they offered, with success. As I got older, I mostly stuck with 4-H for the cheap showing at fun venues in the area. I did a few open shows, fairs, breed shows, and high school equestrian team events as well—Honestly, Angel could turn any judge into a sucker and we walked away with more championship ribbons than we probably earned.
If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
Jax, a little leopard pony that we loving called a “crappy appy” even though he was a POA. In between ramming me into the arena walls, taking off with me, and running me over while stepping directly on my head, that little pony taught me how to ride, learn my diagonals after I should’ve known them years before, and ask for the correct lead (whether or not he gave it to me was another story). As much as I begged and we tried to make it work with the two horses my family already had, I will always regret not being able to buy him when the then-barn owners sold him with the facility.
What disciplines have you participated in?
I learned to ride in an all-purpose saddle, then dabbled in dressage for a few years before starting the “Morgan hunt seat” stuff and later switching to your typical hunter/jumper. At one point I did team penning at a barn we boarded at, but Angel spent the entire time trying to bite the cows, so that ended quickly.
What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
I’d love to dip a toe into western pleasure or reining. The sparkly outfits and beefy horses entice me every time.
What was your first favorite horse breed—the one you loved most as a kid?
Morgans, and Angel was one, so I guess my little kid dreams came true.
What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
To ride in Ireland. The land of my people plus rolling hills and ponies? Yes, please!
If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
Of course. Ax and Angel will make great lawn ornaments one day. If they are gone by the time my riding days are over, whatever horse I had before then will take that position.
What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
Chicken-shit me dreams of having the ultimate flowy A/O hunter round. Until then, I’ll keep on trying not to barf at the sight of anything over 2’6″.
What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
This is the toughest question. Both of my horses have taught me different things, as have the many lesson horses I’ve had the privilege of riding over the years. Angel taught me how to make an anxious horse focus, how to half-halt like my life depends on it, how to (sometimes incorrectly) always take the long spot, and most importantly, how to love and enjoy riding when everything else felt like too much to handle. Ax taught me how to sit a buck, how to correctly collect and engage the hind end, how to wait for the base (sometimes too much), and how to survive being an adult. I wouldn’t be the rider, or person, that I am today without them.
If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
I would make Ax younger. And a bit taller. And make myself less of a scaredy cat when it comes to jumping.
If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
The Kentucky Horse Park, purely so I could hack around the cross-country course on a loose rein after our classes.
If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
I’m lucky enough to get to attend some amazing ones through my job, so this changes yearly. Before this year I had my heart set on the Kentucky Three-Day and a WEG. Now that I’ve been to both, I’m not sure I have my heart set on anything specific.
Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
Not even for a moment. I’ve jokingly thought about how much more money I’d have if I didn’t have a horse, but I’d also probably murder someone (kidding!) or go insane.
What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Buying Ax. From a financial standpoint, do I recommend buying a horse while in college and using half of what was left of your college savings on board? No. From a horse-lover standpoint? Abso-freaking-lutely.
As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
Jumps, which is sad because I used to love getting over that fear, but now it is so much more in the way. When I was younger, my fear of jumping would go away as I consistently lessoned and rode over fences. Now, conquering that fear feels like trying to climb over a 15-foot wall.
What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
A good work ethic. Angel has always been so willing to please and would keep going until the cows came home if it meant she got a cookie and a wither scratch from a happy rider at the end of it all. Ax could actually use a bit more work ethic, but when it is there, he is incredible to ride.
Lack of focus. It is my biggest pet peeve with Ax.
What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?
After everything late 2017 and all of 2018 threw at us, I want to feel like I have finally put back all the pieces and we just aren’t there yet.