I’ve got very little going on by way of bloggable content right now, so a blog hop sounded like just the thing to get a post up that wasn’t just a whole bunch of inane rambling. So thanks to The $900 Facebook Pony for spearheading this one.
- Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?My parents allowed me to try just about any activity I wanted as a kid, with the only caveat that I had to finish whatever I started, whatever that looked like (a season or sport or block of time, however the particular activity delineated out periods of time). I tried ballet, gymnastics, t-ball, girl scouts…and horses. I hated gym class and was pretty hopeless at every sport except racquetball. I’ve dabbled in trail running and go back to it off and on. Horses have been the only constant in my life, and the only thing I keep coming back to, time and again, no matter how many disappointments, failures, and frustrations.
- What was your riding “career” like as a kid?I started riding when I was 7, and started showing when I was 10. From 10 until 17, I was heavily involved in the show ring with the Pony Of the Americas organization. Since the whole point of the POA is versatility, I grew up with a well-rounded exposure to a wide variety of disciplines — equitation and pleasure flat classes in both English and Western, jumping, reining, trail, in-hand halter and showmanship, gymkhana, and all of the off-season shenanigans a barnful of teenagers can manage to invent with their ponies.
- If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?The very first true endurance horse I rode was during a trip to Australia, when Dad and I spent several days with a couple of Aussie endurance riders, getting a “beach and bush” horseback adventure tour on a couple of their endurance Arabians. The mare I rode, Rain, was 7/8ths Arab, 14.2, bay…and to this day, probably one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden. She was bold, super-sane, sensible, and ridiculously fast. She fulfilled my dream of galloping on the beach, and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as confident in the saddle of any horse as I did with her on those days. That was 14 years ago, and I still remember those rides with absolute clarity. If I could have afforded to ship her home, I would have bought her on the spot. Later that same year, she went on to finish first in Australia’s 5-day “Shazada” marathon (like our multi-days, only in order to finish, you have to ride/finish every single day), and also finish the 100-mile Quilty (Australia’s Tevis equivalent). My experience with her has left me with a certain affinity for cute little bay Arabian mares.
- What disciplines have you participated in?A little bit of almost everything, at the level of “jack of all trades, master of none.” I started riding huntseat, then picked up western. The POA versatility exposed me to dabbling in a lot of different disciplines — pleasure and equitation classes, jumping, reining, trail, gymkhana, halter and showmanship. Aside from the day-to-day riding lessons, I’ve taken specialized lessons in jumping and dressage. Once I exited the show ring, I took up distance riding, which started with competitive trail and turned into my heart-sport of endurance.
- What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?I would like to try Working Equitation and mounted archery, just to experiment, and because I’m curious. Maybe some Arabian sporthorse showing if I end up with the right horse for it. But I think those would all be at the “dabble” level, because I still love endurance so much and have so much within that sport to still accomplish.
- Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?Mimi was bought from the POA International Sale, which is technically done in an auction format…but I hate to say that, because it is not your typical “auction” and all the stereotypes that tend to be associated with that term. It is designed to be more of a central access point for individuals looking for a good POA, and allows for the opportunity to look at multiple ponies at one location without pinballing around the country.
- What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?I have always felt drawn to Arabians. Blame the fact that Scottsdale used to be THE premiere destination for Arabian breeding during the 80s, and being so close to Scottsdale, going up and looking at the Arabian farms was something my parents would often do with out-of-state guests. So I got exposed to them at a very young age, and I think that subconsciously influenced me.
- If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?It’s currently a tie between Australia and New Zealand. NZ has the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen (at least in movies…thank you, Lord of the Rings) but I had such an amazing experience in Australia, I would love to go back.
- Do you have any horse-related regrets?I hate exploring that whole idea of looking back and nitpicking apart what I would do different, mostly because I start dwelling on it way too much, because yes, there are plenty of things I wish I could go back and do-over. I wish I had discovered distance riding earlier, and could have capitalized on Mimi’s physical capabilities when she was younger. I wish I wasn’t so inclined to be a timid/tentative rider (getting better, but it’s always there, lurking under the surface). There’s plenty of little things along the way, many of which I had no control over anyway, I can look at and go, “I wish the outcome had been different.” But the vast majority of the time, I don’t think I could have done anything different, or been in a position to do so, and so I just try not to dwell on it too much.
- If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?Err…I don’t have a current trainer. I’ve had some fantastic endurance mentors, and any time I get to ride with someone whose horsemanship and endurance record I respect is a great experience. So basically, more of what I’m currently doing — a wide exposure to a variety of ride strategies and experiences.
- What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?Just one??? Another horse.
- If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?I don’t know. Probably. There’s times now that I go through periods that I don’t ride all that much, depending on how Mimi is feeling.
- What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?I’ve got quite a few fairly lofty endurance goals, but the biggest would probably be getting the chance to go over to Australia and ride the Quilty.
- What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?Mimi, if just by virtue of the fact she has been in my life the longest. But she’s also been an ever-adapting creature, in that as I was ready to learn more, she always had more to teach me. She’s not only been an education in horsemanship, but a lot of physical management.
- If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?My finances — to be able to afford another sound competition horse, to get onto horse property, to get a trailer, to handle all the associated expenses.
- If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?Sticking with endurance, the “big buckle” 100-milers. I’ve been to Tevis and Virginia City, and would go back to both. Would like to do Big Horn, Spanish Peaks, and Old Dominion.
Outside of endurance, I would like to show at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show someday.
- If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?I’m not a good spectator. Would have to be something endurance, and I would prefer to be involved in something like volunteering or crewing.
- Have you ever thought about quitting horses?Many times. Endurance especially has been an uphill battle a lot of times, and I’ve found myself wondering why in the world I keep subjecting myself to all these ups and downs. Horses, and horse sports, can be such a source of heartbreak and disappointment.
And then one good ride, or a quiet bonding moment, makes me remember why it’s all worth it. Because horses complete me, and nothing in life is ever free of ups and downs.
- If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?I don’t know. I know it’s really naive and idealistic to say a true focus on welfare and longevity. I’m all too aware of the big business nature of any of the competitive industries, and how none of them will take the luxury of waiting for horses to fully mature, skeletally, before exposing them to the rigors of the performance sports (racing, any of the performance futurities, etc).
- What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?Historically, putting a young, green pony and a young, green rider together is usually a Bad Idea. Fortunately I had good trainer supervision, and Mimi and I have both lived to tell the tale. I did plenty of dumb shenanigans on pony-back growing up, and while I can’t really look at them and say, “wow, that turnd ino a great thing.” none of which actually turned out bad.
And endurance ideas tend to be more “crazy” than “dumb.” :)))
- As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?Getting hurt. Which is just more of the same, even from when I was younger. I’ve always been aware of my own mortality, and have never bounced well.
- What horse-related book impacted you the most?I grew up on any horse books I could get my hands on, so this is going to be hard. But I would probably have to give a nod to the “Misty” books and all of Marguerite Henry’s works. I read all of them until they fell apart…and then I got new copies.
- What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?Boldness, courage, and grit…even if it means they have a streak of PITA-ness sometimes. I cannot deal with scared, nervous, flighty, reactive, spastic ones.
- What do you love most about your discipline?The bond that develops with a horse when you’re out there for so many hours at a time, seeing amazing sights that might not otherwise we accessible.
- What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?The state of my finances, so I might better pursue the sport I love at my own whims.