To celebrate the new look of Horse Junkies United, our team of bloggers take a trip down memory lane and compare their lives today to their lives four years ago, when Horse Junkies United first began.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon Horse Junkies United. One of the site’s first stories came up in my Facebook newsfeed. A friend was sharing it, some story that presented a common challenge for the amateur rider, because she could relate to it.

Riding Paradiso in 2012

Riding Paradiso in 2012

So could I. I liked the post and found myself exploring HJU. I bookmarked it. I came back every few days to read more.

In 2011, I was horseless. I was a fresh graduate from college and new to the whole career/workforce thing. Though ambitious and dedicated to my work, I missed the extra time I used to set aside for horses. I had sold my mount from high school and had been bumming rides from friends and past trainers and a few crazy greenies I found on Craigslist.

HJU gave me a horsey home when I didn’t have a horse. The community the site fosters inspired me to keep finding ways to be at a barn even when I couldn’t really afford it. I started writing about my experiences, from teaching lessons to young horse crazy girls to training and showing a talented young prospect.

HJU got me to the World Dressage Masters as a spectator, a bucket list dream.

The HJU community gave me the confidence to take on a horse of my own when the chance arose more than a year ago.

My life as an amateur horse owner isn’t really all that different from what it was in 2011, when I didn’t have a horse. The work-horse-life balance is an ongoing struggle and a juggling act most days. I’m still strapped for cash (as it all goes to my horse these days.)

Riding Sassy in 2013.

Riding Sassy in 2013.

What HJU has taught me is basically, it takes a village to be a successful amateur rider. It’s the people you surround yourself with, from your trainers to your barn buddies to the HJU sisters from around the globe, that make this lifestyle so rewarding and fun to be a part of.

When I was sad about selling a young, very talented gelding I got to train for a few months, my HJU pals were there for me on Facebook. At a time of loss, they surrounded me with heartwarming and thoughtful comments. When my horse was (and still is) lame and I’m wrought with grief over how to treat her ailments, they’ve offered friendly words of advice and encouragement.

It takes a village. And the HJU village is my kind of tribe.

Stick with us. We’ve got a whole lot more stories to share.