There have been lots of great moments in my riding career. I started riding at age three and have always operated on a shoe string budget, making my horses myself as I went along. Growing up without a trailer made showing a very occasional thing, so having the horses in my backyard was invaluable. I would spend my summers riding five or six horses a day – flatwork, jumping, trailriding, and racing my mom on her horse while my pony rocketed along beside them.
I had the great fortune in my 20s and 30s to have been able to ride with several very good trainers, and I soaked up everything I could from them. I started my own business and taught lots of kids and adults and helped them bring along their horses and develop a strong relationship with them. I have had some great moments when someone has complimented my horses or how far I have brought them along from green beans to confident competitors. There have been year-end awards, ribbons, and personal milestones, but the horses and riders are really what makes it for me. And there has not been just one moment…I have been blessed with so many!
The really special moments are…
The grins on your students faces on the way home after a great day out foxhunting.
When your advanced beginner kids can tell you what did and did not go well in their course.
When the aloof horse who wouldn’t stop jigging during the first lesson with you becomes the horse who calmly walks up to you for her pre-lesson hug.
When the formerly timid rider takes a slightly spicy mare and works with her until they can do a very good training level dressage test, and then aims her for the eventing world.
When one of your students qualifies for and rides at 4-H southern regionals thereby reaching a goal she set for herself.
When the horse that used to say “I can’t possibly cross that creek” pushes past you so he can go first through the creek and show you how brave he is.
When your student and their horse radiate pure joy when they are riding.
Watching a horse and rider have an ah-ha moment during a lesson.
The first time your new horse learns to sit and really push underneath themselves.
When you canter past a group out cross-country schooling and do a fun combination and you hear their trainer say to his students “Go, do it just like that?”
When someone watches you ride your dressage test and says to you “He really knows his job, doesn’t he” and you smile and laugh because you took that OTTB from out of a field and trained him yourself.
When you come out of stadium and a horseshow friend says to you ”You have gotten more out of that horse than anyone else could have” and again you smile and think off all the blood, sweat and hard work it took to turn a gangly 4.5 year old green broke draft cross into a super fun lower level eventer.
I am not really sure you can measure sucess in just one moment, but I think I have done a lot of fun things and had some amazing opportunities and I hope to keep doing it for as long as I can!