Who was your biggest influence?
I mean on a personal level, not big name clinic givers.....I mean influence when you think back on your life with horses, who really sticks out as being someone who really taught you a lot, someone you may have looked up to, maybe a mentor, a close friend, that sort of thing.
We have all been in the horse world varying lengths of time. I know many of you have been in it as long if not much longer than me. I have ben riding since age six pretty consistently with a few small breaks here and there, but got my first horse at age 8, and have always had at least one horse since then, though my ridimg time and focuses have changed over the years, I am 38 now.
Though I had been taking lessons for a couple of years when I met my influencial person, I had just gotten my first horse at age 8. The horse was totally unsuitable for me, my parents being the non horsey type, did not follow more experienced people's advice and I ended up with a horse that was in no way suitable for a child. In seeking help, we met my influencial person, I will call her Ann.
Ann lived on a small ranch and we just happened to drive by one day seeking a trainer to help with my horse problems. Even though she was not officially a trainer, and did not even really run a boarding facility, she allowed us to bring the horse over. She convinced my parents the horse was unsuitable and helped to find him a new, good home, for the same price my parents had paid for him. She then set about teaching me to really ride.
Though I had taken many lessons at a h/j type barn from the age of six, that had been put on hiatus when we moved to CA from the east coast. I had a good seat, hands, equitation, everything, but that was contingent on me riding a really good horse. If things went wrong, I was clueless how to handle it.
Ann took care of that. Her horse did too. She let me ride her own horse, a half Arab, half Andalusian, who was older, crafty, and taught me more than any horse to date. Under controlled conditons she taught me how to handle a horse that runs off with you, shies, rears, bucks, does not want to move, etc. etc. I got good, very good, at being the one in control. She eventually found me a horse that I could really have fun with and be safe on. A bomb proof older mare that I loved dearly.
We also became good friends, and she became friends with my parents. She taught me so much. She was in her early thirties at the time and had a gazillion horse magazines for me to pour over on rainy days, many stories of her days of showing as a child, and the things her father, a horseman had taught her. We were close for two years, and then, her marriage broke up, and she moved away.
We recently got back into contact again. It was good to hear how her life turned out, and I think she enjoyed hearing how mine turned out. Though I do not work with horses and went into nursing, they have always remained a part of my life. And though I have had many trainers, friends and experiences since then, nothing taught me as much as those two years with "Ann".
For those of you who are just getting into horses, you never know where a good influence is going to come from. You don't always have to shell out hundreds of dollars on a big name trainer and fancy equipment. You can learn more than you ever imagined from another experienced horse lover, a backyard arena, and a cranky, smart older horse who can give you a run for your money.