For the longest time, it was all about a horse. It didn’t matter which horse, it could be this horse or that horse, it really didn’t matter. My family didn’t understand. To them, I might as well have been speaking in a foreign language.
You’d think this is a stage that you could outgrow. Some people do, but this wasn’t the case for me. I was fortunate to begin riding when I was 12, owned my first horse at 14 and by 15, I was pretty serious. Without telling anyone, I arranged to take lessons at Hunterdon with George Morris. I was the only ‘backyard” kid in our lessons. The rest were showing at the Big “A” shows in their custom boots, riding their fancy horses. I wasn’t envious. He was very supportive and never made me feel like I didn’t belong. After my first lesson, I rode in a small but competitive local horse show and won champion in the Equitation division. I’ll never forget, after jumping a perfect round (I know it was good because it was the first time I heard applause), the girl that came in second (she had just qualified for Medal/McClay) yelled, “who is number 113?”. She was shocked to see it was me. As for Hunterdon, I lessoned every other week. It took me two-weeks of odd jobs to earn enough to pay for the lesson and shipping. It was a summer I will always remember fondly.
Of course, I wanted to work with horses and I did for awhile. As much as it was in my heart, it was not in my financial future. In fact, I stopped riding for about 20 years before starting back up again five years ago.
How humbling it is to relearn how to ride. What had been automatic, now took great concentration and my body just couldn’t do what my mind asked it. Deep, deep down, I mean deep down, the muscle memory was there. It just took a lot of time and work to awaken.
Jessie has no fear of horses, this was her first time on by herself.
Someday, I hope this is me…