Over a riding career of 15 or so years, four years in a heavily equine-related undergraduate program, and nearly two years into a veterinary education I have met a LOT of people along the way. Trainers and coaches, stable workers, veterinarians, farriers, educators of all levels, barn managers, and of course – a lot of friends, many of which that have turned into colleagues in the equine industry.
At this point in my careers (both veterinary and as an equestrian), I have begun to see just how small the horse world truly is.
Whenever I visit home, which with an increasing hectic course load is becoming less and less frequent, my first two stops are to my home barn where I started riding and to a former trainer of mine who manages her own barn now. I get to check in on a lot of the horses I grew up riding and learning on, catching up with kids I used to see in lessons and pony camp, and of course, I get to catch up with my trainers – who I can now count as friends. I love seeing their new horses, new projects, see how their show seasons are going, and what’s new in their life outside the barn. If I’m lucky, I might get some saddle time while I’m there, but that’s not what it’s all about.
Usually on my way to or from visiting home, I’ll make a detour to visit my former roommate from undergrad at her job at a pony club barn in southern Ohio. Similar routine there – but we are generally Snapchatting and texting on a daily basis, and find time every couple of weeks to call and catch up. When we visit, it’s like we haven’t missed a day, even if it’s been six months.
I have a whole slew of great friends doing cool things in the industry, and while I’m not always great about calling on a regular basis, I make sure to check in and catch up when I can. I talk to my former undergrad coach – now working at the Florida Horse Park on a pretty regular basis, and she still lets me bug her on advice about my horse from time to time.
I still chat with former co-workers from the barns I have worked at on Facebook, and hear from former teammates (especially the kids on the pre-veterinary track) from time to time.
One of the ladies I worked for during undergrad who trailered The Mare and I out to Indiana I still keep in touch with as well, usually to rant about whatever is going on in our lives at the time just like we did when we were doing barn chores together.
For a long while, I sent updates to the woman who sold me my first saddle – she even came out to my undergrad barn and saw one of my lessons once The Mare relocated to school with me.
Wherever you go in this industry, you make connections, and I’m happy to say that a lot of the connections I’ve made have turned into friendships, creating a network of equine professionals literally across the country at this point.
What is perhaps the coolest part, is that this network of friends, colleagues and peers is a huge support system. Someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help, or give you a name, or has a recommendation, or advice from their own experiences.
In one of the first few times my horse had her feet done at our current barn, I found out that my farrier here attended a conference that my undegrad had hosted (constantly being reminded just how small the horse world is).
Recently, I posted on social media looking for transportation for my Morgan Grand Nationals, and the post exploded. Former and current trainers, co-workers, and friends started tagging individuals they knew go to MGN or are involved with Morgans, giving advice, and trying to provide solutions for my problem. I had a woman that I attended Equine Massage certification school with – 5 years ago now – share my post to help try to fix my problem.
I also am in the midst of trying to figure out my summer plans, and reached out through an e-mailing list at my school, with a surprising amount of responses from the clinicians and students. It’s amazing who knows who, and how willing horse people are to help out a fellow horse person.
I love this industry and career path I am on for all the connections, and friends that I have made along the way, and it is my hope that someday I can be on the other side of the equation – and to be the ‘someone’ that someone knows that can give back to my network, my support and my friends.