Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaBloPoMo #1 - When and why you started riding

One of my early lessons. Don't you love the weird martingales?
Every horse wore one at this barn.

I started riding at some point in my mid to late elementary school career - I think, about the 4th grade. I had been begging and begging and horse obsessed for years, and finally broke my parents down to let me take lessons vs occasionally sending me to a YMCA horse camp or on a trail ride. The barn closest to our house was located, and lessons were arranged. The barn was a hunt seat Arabian and half-Arabian type barn, and continues to churn out riders in those disciplines to this day. The lesson horses were a motley crew of fuzzy mutt type horses, and a handful of Arabians and Morgans. The barn consisted of two aisles along one side, and a single aisle along the other, all situated around the small indoor riding ring. I hung out in the Arabian realm, never showing except at the in-house schooling show (which was always exciting because the horses were rarely, if ever, ridden outside, and the show was put on in the outdoor arena) and generally growing too tall and too obsessed with jumping to be particularly well liked by the handful of trainers who moved through the place during the years I took lessons.

First horse show

Hilariously, the trainer told me to hold my hands like that,
and subsequently destroyed my hand position for the next... 12ish years. Whoops. 

I, like many, was bit by the bug while I was young, and it was an interesting phenomenon only because no one else in my life was at all interested in horses. I've always just... loved them. Connected with them. Even though I was no good at first, riding has always been an athletic pursuit my ill-suited to athleticism body could actually tolerate. When I say I'm ill-suited to athleticism, I mean that I have a congenital heart defect that, before the corrective surgery that really didn't do anything when I was 14, allowed my aorta to press in on my trachea as it expanded to pump more blood. I have a permanent... crushed spot - a soft spot, really - in my trachea that rattles gloriously and makes me sound like I need an inhaler. I sound like out of shape hell when I come off of XC at shows, and have always struggled with running or other vigorous athletics. Because I can't inhale and exhale in a particularly productive way, I've never enjoyed athletics. Horses, though, are a good balance. Because I'm generally calm and happy in the saddle, I think the corresponding drop in blood pressure helps make up for my lack of ability in the breathing department.

Either way, I spent a handful of years riding Arabians and getting obsessed with jumping thanks to the Olympics and books, and I'm sure the trainer who gave my parents the number of the local eventing barn was happy to see the back of me when I went. It certainly worked out well for me - I learned more about horses and riding over the next year than I had in the previous several, and that little eventing barn did so much to shape me as a rider and horse person today. For all of my whining about frost bite and being cold as hell, I'm hoping I can find my old resilience and determination. Maybe it's packed away in a box of winter riding clothes?   


  1. Nice, bringing back the 30 days of Equestrian Questions. I too started out riding Arabians!

    1. They're great, but I am definitely a Thoroughbred and warmblood girl now ;)

      And I am totally stealing this from the Clover Ledge Farm blog... one day I'll be cool enough to come up with a hop. One day.

    2. They went around as 30 day equestrian challenges - originally on tumblr I believe: I did mine in 2011 - I compiled all the prompts on my blog in 2014 because I was cleaning up my 'best of' page.

  2. I started at an Arabian barn with those weird martingales too. I only had a month of lessons there so I never learned what they were called. I think I've seen them in saddleseat catalogs?