I have been completely and irreversibly obsessed with horses for as long as I can remember. I learned how to ride on my uncle's cattle farm. It was nothing fancy by any means, but they taught me the basics, and they taught me how to move cows.
When I was 9 years old, my grandmother bought me this feisty little welsh/QH cross named Dakota. He was barely 3, not gelded, and greener than grass. He wasn't exactly the nicest of horses either. He had no ground manners, no patience, and no interest in being messed with, let alone ridden. Of course, I loved him immediately.
He was solid jet black with a big fluffy mane, he had a crooked stripe on his face, and he was round as a rain barrel. Even though he was a natural disaster on 4 hooves, he sensed my exuberance and warmed up to me right away. My parents were less than thrilled with my new friend. They aren't horse people at all, so he was just a dangerous animal that cost them money. He was a handful at best, but he was mine, and for some reason, that little bugger loved me back.
(Me and Dakota, stopping for a break during a trail ride)
My instructor and I worked with him until he was calm and supple. After that, I started taking my riding lessons with him and we did great together. Sadly, Dakota eventually had to go. Because of my parent's disapproval, my grandma was paying his board, but she could no longer afford it. It was a sad day, I'll never forget him as long as I live.
I continued to take lessons until I was 13, but then my family and I moved too far away from the barn for me to continue my lessons. That and I joined the volleyball and soccer teams, plus drama and key club. I was way too busy to ride. I always missed horses though. I had friends on the equestrian team and whenever they would talk about their horses, I would always feel a little sad inside. I did ride a few times, but it was a rare occasion.
After I got out of high school, I decided it was time to join the horse world again. I don't know why, but all of a sudden, I felt like I just HAD to. (Side note, my current horse was born the year after I graduated. Fateful that it was the same year I started riding again? Was I supposed to start getting ready for him? Perhaps.) I decided to look for a horse that I could lease and take some brush up lessons with. I found a nice older QH mare named Lady Bee and I spent about 6 months with her until her owner decided to sell her right out from under me. I was offered another horse at the farm, but I was too upset to take them up on their offer, so I just left.
After that, I took a long break from horses. Then one day out of the blue, I went for a ride with a friend of mine on her farm. She put me on an older mystery horse they got at an auction. No name, no clue as to her breed, all they knew was that she was about 15 and kind of a handful. They warned me that she was quick and sensitive with her cues, but she listened well and was safe to ride. They had issues communicating with her, but as my friend put it, "I made her sing and dance."
I knew right away that she was a reining horse. From somewhere deep down inside, my old cattle farm days came flooding back. I just rode her like my uncle's cow horse and she knew exactly what I was asking of her. I could feel the tears coming into my eyes. I knew that this is what I was born to do. Afterward, I decided that my happy place was in the saddle and that it was time to find a horse of my own. Not a lease, a horse just for me. A horse that nobody could ever take away from me.
Then, I found Riley. If I could gather up all the love I have ever had for horses throughout my life, it wouldn't even compare to how much I love him. Riley is a 6 year old off track thoroughbred. He is a gorgeous dark bay with a cute ghost shaped white mark on his face. I had no intentions of getting a hot blooded animal like him, but I couldn't help it. I fell in love.
Riley is living the good life off the track. He did eventing for a little while before I got him, but for the past year, he has just been taking it easy. We go for rides around the farm a few times a week, but mostly I spend a lot of time with him just hanging out, taking pictures and talking to him. I'd like to finally explore the english discipline further than just riding around in an english saddle. I am currently working on getting myself and Riley into better shape so that we can start taking some dressage lessons.
That's about it! My experience in a nut shell.