I was born loving horses. I rode friends horses when I was younger and my parents started letting me take riding lessons around age nine. My dad was hoping that I would grow out of it, he mentioned that I couldn't have a horse until I was twelve, figuring that I would move onto something else by then. Twelve came around and I was ALL about getting a horse
I purchased my dream horse at that age, I'd been saving for years. A 15hh golden palomino Foundation Quarter Horse MARE was all I'd talk about, turns out, I found one. Molly really stood out at the dressage boarding facility where I had been taking lessons, heh.
Shortly after I bought her my dad set up a fence and run-in so that we could keep her at our home. One thing led to another and we ended up with a second horse, something that friends could ride! Well, he turned out not safe for friends to ride... With the help of some adult horse friends I worked with him, trying to saulve some of his behavioral issues and figure out the reason behind them. He was never going to be what I needed but HE needed a lot of work. I found out that the gelding I'd purchased had quite the history, he was all sorts of trouble and it started when he was hit by a car. Two years and a lot of falls later, we made progress but opted to re-home him. *I* could ride him, friends could not. Then some how this became a trend for me. I started by finding ponies and Miniature Horses who needed "rescued". Then, I would work with them. De-sensatizing, training, riding, driving and I would find them wonderful homes.
Over the years that progressed to riding sized horses. I took lessons on them to learn how to train them. I worked with them in whatever discipline seemed fitting for their personality, ability and liking that way I was well rounded in the basics of many different riding styles.
Now, many-many horses and over twelve years later I still "rescue", train and take problem children in. Always teaching. Always learning things myself. Always loving every minute of it.
(Taken over the summer with my first mare, Molly, who is now 25 years old and still my main riding horse)
Wow, it's so neat reading about everyone's backgrounds. Good thought on the OP's part to start this thread.
I started riding at the age of 4. My older sister (almost 4 years my senior) was absolutely horse crazy and begged my parents for a horse. She knew the only way to get my parents on board was to get me on the bandwagon too and I was more than happy to jump on! Since neither one of my parents knew the first thing about horses, my mom enrolled my sister and I as well as herself in riding lessons so we could all learn.
We bought our first horse from the stable we rode at a year and a half later and moved her to our farm. She was the family horse for a couple of years and then my sister joined the local 4-H club. I was too young and had to wait to join until I was 9.
The first horse I rode in 4-H was a 4 year old QH that we leased from one of the 4-H families, but he was too much for me, so that summer, my parents and I sought out a horse for my very own. We found a 12 year old 7/8 Arab, 1/8 Thoroughbred mare and it was literally love at first ride. After going to see and ride her, I begged my dad to buy her. He told me we would have to go see a few other horses first, just to see what was out there, but I would have none of it! So, that summer, shortly before I turned 10, we bought "Sam" (registered name Champagne Moi ). Sam was exactly what I needed. She was quiet, but not too quiet, so if I started to day dream, she would do something to snap me back to attention. She was extremely well rounded, excelling in Western & English Pleasure, Trail and even Gymkhana. I rode her in 4-H and showed throughout the summers in local horse events. Even though she was my horse, my entire family absolutely adored her. We decided to breed Sam and ended up with a beautiful filly the next year, who became the horse that I still have at my parents', "Lilly".
While Sam was in foal, I needed another horse to ride in 4-H. My sister had a friend who had a 5 year old Arabian mare who had been trained as a 3 year old, and hadn't had a speck of work since her training. The friend wanted to sell her mare as she was leaving for University soon, so I agreed that I would put some time on her through 4-H and maybe a few small shows over the summer. I was 14 at the time and it was through riding this mare "Duchess", that I discovered I had an affinity for more challenging horses. The first time I got on her, I thought I had made a mistake. She was literally afraid of her own shadow - when she'd see it on the arena wall, she'd spook. It took a lot of work but she ended up being an absolute sweetheart, willing to do anything or go anywhere I asked. I was sad to give her back, but I learned a great deal over the 8 months or so that I rode her.
After Duchess, I went back to Sam and her new baby, Lilly. I continued with those 2 for the next few years, until, 3 days before I graduated high school, Sam died of a massive heart attack. She had been my horse for 8 years. The vet came to do the autopsy, and pulled literally handfuls of lipids from her arteries. He said he had never in his 20 years of being a vet, seen that in a horse. A few months later, I moved out to go to University and didn't ride regularly for nearly 7 years.
A year and a half ago, I decided that I needed to get back in the saddle. I contacted the stable where I had taken my first riding lesson at age 4 and have been taking lessons ever since.
I still have my mare Lilly out at my parents, and she is unfortunately too far away for me to get out and see her regularly. She is currently being exercised by a friend of mine who still lives in the area. I can't really complain too much. She receives excellent care and my parents cover all of her feed, vet and farrier expenses. Like her mom, she is loved by my entire family and I can't see us ever selling her.
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.
My memory is awful, so I can't do a nice breakdown with years and all organized. I'll do my best not to jumble it too much though.
I had a rather odd upbringing, my Mum was The Best In The World, my Dad not so much.
My Mum had my sister and I doing everything possible, swimming, dancing, ballet, soccer, gymnastic, flute, guitar on and on and on - we did everything - including riding lessons, which I loved.
My Dad (my parents were still together at that point) was a pretty severe alcoholic and gambler. The good times with Dad were when he was doing things he wanted to do, so I spent a lot of time at the race track. My dad owned race horses and actually my sister and I did as children too. In those days (don't know the rules now) but there were areas of the race track that were restricted to children, my dad looked at the rules and saw they were not restricted to owners. So all horses from them on were jointly owned by my sis and I. If I had to guess, we must have owned 30-50 race horses when we were kids. I barely remember them all, but I do remember mind numbing years spent at the track or the trainers yard.
The race track might not be the best place to learn things, but I think I was learning before I even realized I was. I always saw horses that were difficult to handle and things just became kind of engrained/common sense.
So couple that stuff with riding lessons arranged by Mum. Riding was the only thing I should any kind of talent or real interest in.
When I got to be about maybe 9, I ditched Dad and spent my time at the barn where I took lessons. I'd take lunch and be there from when it was light until it was dark just doing chores and loving every minute.
I think I was 11 when I got my first horse. I started doing gymkhana's and pony club stuff but that didn't really hold much interest for me, other than it being horsey.
So when I found jumping, I found that I was spending my weekends with my Dad again as he would always be there encouraging me as it brought out his competitive side, and it was more personal than the race horses he had, so he got out of them and spent his time with me.
He took my pony and I to a GP level trainer every Weds night. Sadly I've tried to find him since, but it was pre internet days, and I am unable to.
Every Thursday night we would compete at an indoor show series, so I did that year round. Every Sat I would spend the summer days at outdoor shows.
I got to the last regional qualifier (which I won) before Wembley (UK) and then I was just out of my league. I was competing against girls my age bringing eight different $50k ponies (each). I was there with my one pony with a heart of gold. It just wasn't a fair fight, I'd be riding her in a few classes and these girls (fair enough, they had more money) would bring out a fresh pony each class. My darling pony would have killed herself to keep up, but it just wasn't fair to ask her.
So the week before Wembley, Penny came up not lame but off. I know that's lame, I just mean not limping leg related. It was her back. Wembley was gone, and vets bills ensued. It was time to retire Penny, and I am crying as I am type this. Just so heartbreaking, and I don't often share this stuff. But Penny was the type of horse who would have died to do the right thing. I came to the devastating decision that I just couldn't ask her to try again, she was maybe in the 14-16 age range at that point. She'd given me enough as to get to that level again meant really extensive showing the next year.
I kept Penny for quite a while after that. Until I'd been living independently for some time and was just going without food myself. An old family friend wanted her, had always wanted her to teach his young kids to ride gently, they were in the 4-6 age range. Penny lived out her days in his front yard with her head through his kitchen window. He had lots of land, that's just where she liked to be, and where they liked her to be.
Honestly since then, horse ownership just hasn't been the same. I can't afford a horse like Penny again, and I am left with prospects who through either my fault, theirs or just whatever, never fulfill that desire.
Brad is looking at me like I have three heads because the wife that never cries is typing furiously and in tears. So that's enough of my horsey history.