The horses that made me Part I

     I was inspired reading another blog post this morning, so I decided to write a brief-ish history of the horses [and my riding experiences], starting at the beginning, complete with old pictures of bad riding 🙂

     I have always been interested in horses as long as I can remember. Every family friend that ever owned a horse was begged to ride, and every time we saw a horse I know I asked my parents to ride. I got really lucky in 8th grade band class. Middle schools hand out all kinds of announcements, and an equestrian team happened to be on the list! I got my parents to take me to the open house, and I met Beverly and things took off from there! 

      The first horse I ever really started to ride was Levi. This isn’t actually me on the horse, but this is a picture of Levi around the time I rode him. Levi was the safe and steady horse I learned the most basic skills on. I don’t remember a lot of specifics, but I know he taught me the basics of being assertive with his laziness!

Levi with one of the other barn girls

     Before we could start cantering, we had to trot without stirrups for ten laps around the arena! Luckily we had a comfortable quarter horse to practice on. Zip was a large quarter horse who lived life in a very relaxed mindset. He was western pleasure bred, and didn’t move out for anything. Zip conveniently had the most comfortable canter, and I spent lots of time trying to ride him (he was very popular). He was a great lesson horse, and as I became more balanced, I moved onto other horses. 

Adjusting my stirrups on Zip

     After about six months to a year riding with Beverly, I started getting more balanced and braver. I wasn’t worried about switching horses, and I didn’t fall in love quite so seriously as some of the other girls. Beverly gave me the opportunity to ride lots of her horses, before she introduced me to Red.

Lucky, a Morgan cross
I don’t actually remember this horse’s name, just his large belly :p

     During the summers, Beverly ran a summer camp and we got to help out as much as possible. I taught kids how to groom and tack up their horses, then led trail rides and supervised ring riding. I learned a lot helping out with summer camp, and over the years I was allowed to take a more active role and eventually get paid!

     After summer camp, we got ready for our first schooling hunter shows at the wonderful facility TTC. I got to ride Red at the show, and I tried to ride him as often as possible after that. Red had a comfortable canter and I gained a lot of confidence riding him. He also had a natural, easy jump that made everything more fun, even as I was unbalanced. 

Mom and me, circa 2005

Developing a good canter seat took me a long time
Learning how to jump was easier on a great horse

    I rode Red for a while, until Beverly realized she could put me on new horses and I could start riding greener horses. Most of the “greener” horses were safe at the walk/trot/canter, they just lacked refinement in everything and had not been taught to jump [Some of you might be realizing where my comfort zone came from]. The first new love of mine was PJ. PJ was a large bay standardbred cross, as our best guess.

My riding team on one of our first XC school days
Ahhh The “best” pictures

We cleaned up pretty nice.

     I rode PJ for quite awhile, and even got to take him to a show. I taught him everything he knew about jumping, and he tried hard for me. He was a great horse, especially for me at the time. Then he was sold, about two months before the next horse show. Ironically enough he became a foxhunter, which seems like a hint of things to come later on. 

     Enter Breeze. Breeze was a TB/cross, although with what I never knew. Looking at him now, I can think MAYBE quarter horse, or maybe just backyard bred TB. He was energetic, and didn’t have brakes or steering. He was extremely good natured, and didn’t try to hurt anyone.
We were still figuring each other out
I always liked this picture

     Breeze was a fun horse to ride. I really started to get more serious at this point in my riding, and I wanted to compete more and jump bigger things. About the time I was 16, I met some new people who lured me away from Beverly with big promises. I think this is the end of Part I. Beverly taught me all the basics and then some. She taught me how to be safe and how to ride green horses. I am very, very grateful to her for that knowledge.

Typical teenage rebellion: Wear jeans to a jumping clinic
I think this was my first oxer


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