I've got a lot of Potentially Huge things brewing, so until I get those under wraps to a point where I can write about them, I'm going to [continue to] take advantage of some fun prefab blog content. Thanks, Amanda.
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1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?The last sane sport I did was swimming. I'd still swim if it hadn't completely botched the soft tissue in my ankles. I miss it all the time. Horses, skiing, and swimming were my first loves. Two have carried forward into my adult life and along the way I decided to adopt some other not-sane sports like rock climbing and mountain biking. Nothing sane interests me much! And the lessons I've learned from horses are superior to any I've learned from any other activity in my life. Horses scratch an itch nothing else can quite reach.
2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid?I rode ponies and horses that a few of my parents' friends had for awhile. It was sporadic but quieted some of my persistence about wanting to ride. Eventually I would take once weekly lessons for many years before my friends all got their own horses and I could go ride with them.
3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?I have him. Stanley. And I didn't even have to buy him, his old owner gave him to me.
4. What disciplines have you participated in?Barrels, cutting, western pleasure, English pleasure, endurance, eventing, dressage.
5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?Polo and vaulting! But from a more realistic standpoint: I'd like to get Griffin on cattle for either cutting or penning and I foresee much more endurance, eventing, and dressage in my future.
6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?I bought Q the weekend before she was heading to auction, but that's the closest I've come.
7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?Arabians. Demo was an Arabian cross and I was obsessed with him.
8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?Honestly, I'm pretty damn happy right where I am. But if I were to take a sabbatical somewhere, maybe Chile or New Zealand. I want to see the country from horseback.
9. Do you have any horse-related regrets?I wish I had developed patience and an understanding of how to communicate with horses sooner. I wish I'd had access to dressage-based training sooner, and I also wish I had understood how powerfully my emotions played into my interactions so that I could check them at the door earlier in life.
10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?I'd really love to spend a concentrated amount of time with Mary Wanless and hammer out my rider biomechanics. I find it fascinating. Additionally, a focus on that type of work has really changed my riding the past few years and to be able to be drilled on it by one of the best would help me become the best I could be and enable me to troubleshoot future issues with more ease.
11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?Ride at the Biltmore and/or Vermont 100. The Biltmore Estate is GORGEOUS and I'd love to spend hours riding on it, and I absolutely love the northern Appalachian range and would simply enjoy riding in that region.
12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?If I were in a situation where the horse would have to be boarded, probably not? There are so many other things in my life that I could put the money toward and time that I could spend doing other things. I would still love horses and seek interaction with them, but I think I could achieve that pretty easily without owning my own.
13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?Riding my horse across the country from coast to coast. Linny Kenney really inspired me years ago when she rode Sojourner across the country. It's pretty crazy and I'll likely never do it, but that's why it's a fantasy.
14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?Hands down, Q. She's a challenge for me. A big challenge. But through the challenges she's presented, I've learned more about myself and my actions and reactions than ever before. The lessons I've taken away from my time with her so far have benefited every aspect of my life, especially my interactions with others.
15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?I really wish more options for local competition venues and trainers existed. It takes me a good bit of foresight and planning to be able to make it to the events I go to currently. I would also love to audit more clinics and volunteer for more shows, but it's hard to do these things when the travel sometimes is more than the time I'd actually spend at the event.
16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?I'mma stick with endurance on this one because it's more within my realm at the moment. I would really love to ride the Big Horn one day or any of the Pioneer rides.
17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?I'd honestly love to see the Olympics.
18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?Ugh, several times. But it's usually just in dark times as an exasperated outburst/thought. There's never any real power behind the thought.
19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?I wish horse welfare was more of a priority at high-level events. In both eventing and endurance, there have been a slew of issues in recent years and I really wish the governing body would implement measures to avoid and minimize the likelihood of these things happening again.
20. What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?Oh, goodness... I guess taking a chance on a VERY UGLY baby Griffin. NO ONE thought he'd amount to much and everyone is astounded at how very nice he's turned out. And, as I told the daughter of one of his soft landings before coming to me, "He didn't get this way overnight and he may not have become this with someone else. I put a ridiculous amount of time into this horse and that alone has resulted in what you see today."
21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?Becoming seriously injured. My sense of mortality grows greater every year.
22. What horse-related book impacted you the most?So many! But I'm going to go with the one that made the biggest difference early on - Monty Roberts' The Man Who Listens to Horses completely boggled my mind and changed the way I viewed and interacted with horses. Thanks to that book, I started to realize that a lot of the training methods I'd witnessed to date were quite abusive and unnecessary. There was a gentler way to do things that worked with the horse's natural instincts instead of forcing them to comply with our every whim and desire and causing them a lot of pain when they didn't. His way of explaining how horses observed and reacted to the most minute body language from a human helped me realize that I could stand to do a lot more listening instead of just expecting a horse to do as it was told. I was fortunate that I had only ridden "made" horses up until the point I read this book (early teen years), but it still made me feel bad about the ignorance I'd been living in up to that moment.
23. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?I really value a horse who is eager to show up for work and the day's adventures. Griffin has taught me how incredible it is to have this trait in a horse and I have so much fun with him as a result.
Upon pondering traits I dislike the most, I realize that they all revolve around having a distrust of people which leads to a lack of respect/confidence in people. And that isn't the horse's fault, that's the fault of the shit human who taught them that, directly or indirectly. So excluding those types of learned traits, I'd have to say a horse who is lazy by design. I hate a horse who is a push ride!
24. What do you love most about your discipline?Endurance: it allows me time alone with my horse while enjoying some of the most gorgeous scenery. I love seeing SO MUCH of the land without having to watch my feet every step.
Eventing: I freaking love XC lol. Shocking, I know. Though equally, I really enjoy the minutia that is dressage because it is teaching me to be a better rider and it's so very fun to mold the horse into its best self.