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.
My trainer. Shes no big name well known trainer and isn't someone who takes in horses or really teaches as a job but she took me under her wing. She has given me a horse when i had nothing to ride. She's helped me improve and even when i was ready to give up she was there encouraging. I see her as a mom she is definitely someone i look up to 100% . She has even offered to take me with her to texas when she moves.
My Grandfather. He was an Appy breeder for about 30 years starting in the 1920's before there ever was an ApHC. He was also an old fashioned horse trader, with both the good and bad connotations. He taught me a lot about breeding, training, and how to evaluate a horse by feeling its joints and tendons. Some of his training methods have been greatly improved upon over the years, but some of them were also very sound, and are sadly rapidly becoming forgotten in today's world of the quick-fix commercial trainers whose tight jeans seem to be their primary ASSet...
Leanne, Liz and Hilly. Liz taught me the importance of a good attitude in the horse world, and how to always look at the next horizon.
Hilly taught me how to be tough, how to be the leader, and how to put my foot down when i believe in something. she taught me the importance of organization in the barn, and soooo many tricks and tips for everyday horse care.
Leanne taught me everything i know about riding. She gave me my posture, my focus, and the knowledge of everything i know about movement and gait. She taught me about how my balance and posture effects my horses balance, collection, extension and form. she taught me how to be fair and determined when training. she taught me how to be honest with my horse, and myself. she taught me to own up to my mistakes, to never saddle up angry, but above all to ride from my heart, cause thats where horses should start.
Face we are far too alike.
My grandfather was also my most influential "trainer", I'm self taught for the most part, but he came down a few times when I was hitting road blocks. (An 11 year old training her 2 year old barely started first horse will run into those! LOL!)
In 92 he came down and taught me "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard" by chasing me around the pasture with a 2X4 while I was trying to get her over her "I've decided not to move PERIOD phase". I remember it like it was yesterday. I also learned never to let him physically help me train again, the rest of our sessions were over the phone, he about killed both of us! But we cleared that obstacle pretty quickly!
We used to sit for hours in his living room pouring over classifieds, (he was a former horse trader/trainer Appys too) teaching me how to decipher ads. We went over his old photos and bloodlines and what he traded for what and how he made on this one or how this one was crazy, and then shed a few tears over a few too.
Once he swindled me out of three western saddles for $250 that were worth well over $2,500! I thought he was being sweet and giving me money, then going to patch them up. Nope, he traded em for work on a house he was building. That was a crude lesson!
So the greatest things I learned from him was to stick with it and get it done. Falling is not an option, and if you don't like a horse any longer there's always a sucker down the road that will take it... Last part I never attempted, but I know how to!
My Mom for sure, although if you see us at a horse show we are probably squabbling at each other... She has been riding for 40 + years and knows her stuff, not to mention, is a good rider. I look up to her experience and riding talent, she got me to where I am now in riding. My coach would be to busy to come to my H/J Shows, so it'd just be my mom & I.
She never forced me into horses, and was thrilled when I asked for riding lessons for my 5th B-Day, she has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ponies, horses, equipment, horse shows, trucks, trailers, property, etc, when I was growing up. I am very hard on myself when it comes to riding, and my Mom has always been the one that lightens me up. I don't know what'd I would do with out her!
Also, my coach, Gina Allan-Belasik. She is an amazing lady, and coach of course. But I have always looked up to her "more then positive" attitude, her amazing riding and coaching talent. I hope to be as successful as her one day!
I've got two. My grandpa and my mom. Grandpa started the farm that I now own. I grew up running through these pastures. He taught me so much that I don't even know where to start. He taught me a lot of practical application type things as far as care, pasture management, stallion handling (was blessed to have had time with his own son of Poco Dell) and he also gave me a very critical eye to look at horses with. My mom taught me to be the rider & trainer I am today and the big reason I have super quiet hands, boy did she preach at me non stop on that front. She learned from Dale Wilkinson, Paul Schuh and a few other hall of famers. I was blessed to have met and rode with them a few times myself but was a youngin. What I wouldn't give to have that time now. I also have her to thank for instilling a strong competitive drive and desire to continue to better myself.
Oh a funny added thought, my grandpa also taught me the value of the upgrade. He stood back and allowed me to sell my pony when I was 7. Had a man at the farm looking at weanlings and he asked if my gpa knew of a good broke pony for sale. I piped in and said "You can buy my pony!" When he asked why I'd want to sell her if she was a good one, my response was "If I sell the pony my grandpa will get me a quarter horse." And he did, a mare straight off the King Ranch. We told my mom after the pony was loaded up and on the road. :lol: That mare was my heart horse and even though she's been gone for many, many years, I will never own another that could fill her shoes.
My mother. She told me that I could do anything if I just put my mind to it and wanted it badly enough.
She also supported me 100% in buying the pony that was to be the one that turned me into a rider and not just a passenger. Everyone else thought we were nuts to even think about it and she gave me the confidence to prove them wrong.
Everyone has influenced me in one way or another.
But I think there are a few that stick out.
One is a cowhorse trainer I worked for, he taught me more in one year than most learn in several. He is a good cowboy, a good trainer/showman and could really get in a horses head and in mine to get something across. He is the one that told me that "anyone can learn the mechanics of training, but a good trainer knows how to get in the head." That really stuck with me. He wasn't meaning Parelli phsyco babble, but reading horses and knowing what will work and what won't.
A guy that I cowboyed for was a big influence, he taught me a lot about reading cattle and how making your horse work right makes for better cattle handling which in turn improved my roping. He is tough to work for but it came with a reputation that has afforded me great job opportunities and a pile of knowledge.
Also the very first guy I worked for and started colts as a teenager. He taught me a lot about old-fashioned methods that I still use.
My Dad, who used to tell me all sorts of reckless stories about his riding days... my favorite was one where he took the barn's stallion out for a trail ride and the horse almost bolted off a cliff. :shock: They were both humbled by the near-death experience, but my Dad still gave it to him afterwards for acting so darn stupid. :lol:
For my Bat Mitzvah (thirteenth birthday), my parents surprised me with a helmet, half-chaps, a dressage whip, a grooming set, a halter (I had just started once -a-week lessons). I thought it was the greatest gift of all time! Even though I didn't buy a horse until 11 years later, that gift validated my horse-crazy girlish dreams (ETA... we didn't have a lot of money growing up so I was rarely able to ride that consistently while I lived with my parents). I went on to take lessons, lease horses, compete on my college's riding team and eventually buy my boy Jax. Today I still ride with that dressage whip. :wink:
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