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It Takes A Village, Part II

Yesterday I thanked all the professionals who have helped, and continue to support, Miles and I. Today, I want to recognize a different but equally important group of people. In addition to keeping my horse happy, healthy and performing his best, our relationship is a partnership between him and I. And no matter how great Miles is feeling, it doesn’t mean squat if I’m sucking. And let me tell you, it takes a whole group of people to keep me going.

No seriously — there’s a lot of people that help me every day and support my “horse habit.” So here’s to them; by now they probably all deserve an Emmy or a Nobel Prize… or something!

My family with Vinnie

My Parents

Riding would never have entered into my life if it weren’t for my parents — and it wouldn’t have become such a big part of my existence if they hadn’t continued to support it. They consider horses a part of the family, just like I do. In fact, a piece of Visa still lives on their mantle, at my father’s request when we decided to get him cremated. Okay, maybe that was TMI, but seriously — my parents are crazy supportive from making Miles fly bonnets and quarter sheets to encouraging me to buy a new saddle so that we can succeed, I am crazy lucky to have them backing me up at every turn.

My Barn Family

I realized a long time ago that while I love to show, I don’t love to show alone. It’s way more fun to go with a group and cheer each other on. And that’s exactly what I have here. Team Brookside kicks ass (if I do say so myself) and it’s awesome to have made so many great friends while riding. From the show crew, to the lesson gang and even those who I just see around the barn everyone checks in in Miles (especially in inclement weather) and we help each other out.

My Best Friend & Maid of Honor

I met my best friend and maid of honor at Timber Run when I started riding there in 2011, and it’s been a fast and easy friendship. So far, her maid of honor duties have included body clipping my horse (who we found out HATES to be body clipped), reminding Miles how to behave on the lunge line (4 weeks after she had major surgery) and letting me borrow half of her stuff when Miles wasn’t cooperating. N is always in my corner, helping me through anything and everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend who truly understands this crazy horse thing.

Best of all? Friends who ride together, win together and stay together!

My Fiance

Yeah, you knew this one was coming! It’s probably annoying to keep hearing about how awesome Sam is, but I can’t help that it’s true! He was right beside me rehabbing Visa, took days off when he passed away and he was the one that told me to buy Miles. He comes to every. single. horse show, and many, many lessons. He even comes to the barn just to hang out and watch me hack. He’s always supporting my dream and without him, it definitely wouldn’t be possible.

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So thanks guys, for sticking by my side through thick and thin; talking me down off the ledge when shit hits the fan and for celebrating every success with me, no matter how small. Through my love of horses, I’ve found a love of people and an extended family that I wouldn’t give up for the world. It takes a village to keep horse and rider on track, but honestly? I wouldn’t love it as much if it were any other way.

It Takes a Village, Part I

Winter continues to rage in Fly Over Country with lots of snow (6th snowiest in history so far!) and bitter cold temperatures. All this means very limited riding and not much to blog about. With everything that been going on with Miles recently though, I’ve been thinking a lot about him, which always leads me to get opinions from my pit crew.

Anyone who has owned a horse for any length of time knows it takes a team to keep a horse sound and able to work — whether you’re enjoying hitting the trails, showing low level hunters or prepping for the Olympics — there are a whole lot of people involved in the process.

I am blessed to have a wonderful team around me, and today (and tomorrow) I want to take some time to recognize them and thank them for all their hard work.

The Trainer

Whether you take lessons once a year or once a week, your trainer is a big part of your success. I absolutely love my trainer for many, many reasons. She has loads of experience, her top priorities are safety and care of the animal and she is willing to move at whatever pace her client is comfortable with.

She let me ride her personal horses after Visa died, she helped me find Miles and she has filled many of the gaping holes in my riding education. Without her, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.

Bev and Diamond

The Vet

Hopefully you see your vet twice a year for vaccines… or less than that if you do those yourself. But the reality is that horses are fragile creatures and many of us see our vet much more often than that. My vet is lovely — she texts(!!) and loves to answer all my questions. She was super helpful throughout the pre-purchase process with Miles, including leveraging her relationship with the local equine hospital to get us an appointment ASAP. Without the good doctor, I might never have purchased Miles… ’nuff said.

The Farrier

As the saying goes, “No hoof, no horse.” A good farrier is worth their weight in gold — and my farrier is great. Sometime we can have scheduling trouble, but he is so talented, I don’t mind that much. He made special shoes himself for Visa to help keep costs down, and he has a 1 week guarantee for all his shoes… which was helpful when Miles ripped his first set of new kicks off the day after they were put on.

Dean

The Barn Staff

Many of us board our horses — and for me, it’s an essential part of being able to have a horse. But it also means that I’m trusting the barn staff to care for my horse day in and day out, and to recognize any problems. My barn has phenomenal staff who help me out all the time. They coordinate with my trainer, vet and farrier if needed and are always available.

When you sit down and think about it, even for someone like me who just shows locally (we’re not going to be world beaters!) there are lot of people involved in my success. There are a lot of people helping Miles be the best he can be. And there are a lot of people rooting for us, who take extra time to help us out every damn day.

And I am so, so grateful for it.

FOO Chronicles: My First Show Pony

I got serious about showing in 2000 when I began riding Jazz, a super cute Welsh Cross pony. The barn owner, Holly, encouraged my friend and I to join the local 4-H club, and that’s exactly what we did. It was really the beginning of the end, because once I got a taste of the show ring, I was hooked.

This year and the next are the years I look back on and wonder how the hell I made it out without a major injury or emotionally scaring experience. I knew next to nothing and the barn owner would just drop us off in the morning for the show and pick us back up in the evening… which meant I had basically no supervision, least of all from a qualified professional.
Anyways, the very first show I went to was my most memorable experience with Jazz. He was older, probably in his mid to late teens, so the barn owner didn’t turn him out the night before our first show to “conserve his energy.” So Jazz hopped off the trailer in a brand new place and was… well.. really fucking jazzed to be there. (Hardy har har, I’m so clever). So I decided to take him back by the trailers and lunge him, since no lunging was permitted in the warm-up rings. This was not a good idea… taking a scared, highly energized pony away from all his friends and ask him to run around. Well he ran, straight away from me and I hit a truck with my whole body.
Oops. Luckily Jazz just ran to the next trailer over and said hi to the pony tied there. Crisis averted.
So of course I realized then that Jazz didn’t want to be alone, and thus I tacked up, mounted and was in the process of walking back to the rings when Jazz totally lost it, bolted and I fell onto the concrete pathway we had been walking on.
All I remember was looking up, not seeing my pony anywhere and thinking “OMG, Holly is going to kill me because I lost her pony.”
Of course my mom freaked out, but somehow I was unhurt… which is really fucking amazing. Some kind soul caught Jazz and brought him back to us. About 20 minutes later I went into the ring for my first class of my first 4-H show: Showmanship. We managed a third place ribbon, which I still have to this day as it’s one of my favorites.
I showed Jazz for one year in the walk/trot division in all of the English classes, including jumping. But the year after that I grew a little bit and was deemed too tall for Jazz. About five or so years later after I had changed barns I saw Jazz again with a different little girl, packing her around the Novice division. Still taking care of his young rider, like always.
Hunting crossrails like a boss
Such a good pony.