When and why you started riding

I'm going to borrow Viva Carlos' 30 day horse challenge to try to get jump started on blogging.

1. When and why you started riding

I think I was obsessed with horses my entire life. Long before my parents could afford regular lessons, my dad would take me to a local hack and rent a pony for a pony ride. They only gave you a lead rope and it was supposed to just be a walk, but my dad would take me into the woods, tie the rope around like reins and let me run around. Once I was old enough to be allowed to ride, we'd go on trail rides together at the local rental place and also at an uncle's barn. 

Amazing outfit? Lack of helmet? Awesome form? Check, check, check!

It took until 3rd grade for my parents to finally sign me up for weekly lessons. I started riding at Hickory Run Farm - a hunter/jumper show barn with a great lesson program. I rode here through high school starting as a kid with a bunch of close friends who slowly grew up and out grew horses until it was just me. 
I think I've been riding in lessons for like a month here so the form still sucks, but look: a helmet!
Being poor and being fearless, I did what would probably be called a working student position. I rode a lot of horses from fresh ottbs and very pricey warmbloods. By the time I left for college, I could take a horse from green to jumping 4' before they were sold or went back to their owners. 

I can find no photos of me riding in high school so this is from college
In college I discovered the horror of IHSA. Having been doing jumpers at 4', I was bored to tears doing "hunters" at 2'. I have a very clear memory of my first lesson where I was asked to shorten my reins while trotting. I sat back, used leg and rein and pushed the horse up into a lovely uphill trot on the bit and was immediately yelled at and told that I was only supposed to shorten my reins. I soon discovered that the desired position was the horse resting his whole head's weight onto the bit (and therefore the rider's arms). I guess that is a way you can ride, but it's seriously stupid and goes no where so I quit the equestrian team and did polo for the next 4 years.

Rubber boots, dollar store grippy gloves, and a felt cover over my plastic helmet? Checks all around.

My freshman year was the first year Vassar ever had a polo team and so there weren't any experienced players to carry the newbies. We all got to suck together. However, it was a ton of fun. Crazy horses that literally need to be mounted while moving (you just bounce along with them and throw yourself up), have to be run into corners to get them to stop, speed, fast turns, and a lack of snootiness? Yes please!

By Sophomore year, I was treasurer and was Captain my Junior and Senior years. I even won the club sport athlete of the year award my Junior year.  This is all while fundraising endlessly. Club sports got only minimal financial support and I seriously bake-saled my way through many years. We had group lessons 2 days a week and had the option to work at the club's chukker nights and weekends to get extra rides. There were weeks that I rode 5 - 6 days a week.
Competing in England
During my summers, I ran riding programs at summer camps. I met my dream horse during my sophomore year, and despite already being poor, getting poorer by amassing student loan debt, and you know, being a full-time college student, I bought her to save her from going to auction at the end of the year. I only had her for almost 2 years before she died from what the vet guessed was bastard strangles (I could not afford an autopsy). 

When I left college, I had no $, so I didn't ride much for a few years outside of running summer camps. When I met my now husband, he wanted to do a pack trip so we signed up for lessons at a county barn. He took one group lesson and became addicted. He called around for private lessons the next day and started riding 2 times a week and quickly advanced. We continued doing group lessons until we moved to California.

Vikki need two people to tack her and she'd attack anyone who entered her stall. I requested her every time.
In California, the prices for lessons were crazy high and a lot of barns had rules about no jumping higher than 2'6" unless you owned or leased. It was actually cheaper to buy our own horses and board them at a self care barn than it was to take 1 lesson a week, so that's what we did. And the rest is for another post.

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