Getting back into horses.
I figured I'd start this thread to keep track of my progress, now that things are really starting to roll. I'm going to put down my starting point, my goals, and what I'm currently doing to achieve those goals. So, here it goes:
I started getting into horses when I was two years old. I loved them from the moment I saw my first pony. My mom worked for a lady who owned horses and ponies, and I rode them whenever I could.
When I was three, I moved to Texas, and for years I went through a riding drought due to my parent's financial situation. Sure, there were intermittent pony rides, summer camps, even a lesson or two, but slowly my interest waned.
Fast forward to about three years ago ago. I found a barn in Royse City through my high school biology teacher. We visited there to do a field study. I had forgotten in those long years of not being around horses how good it makes me feel.
Last year, my parents bought a Groupon for a discounted riding lesson at a local trail ride company. I had been struggling with my depression and anxiety, but the moment I got on that horse, a Quarter Horse named Bandit, I found my confidence again. I rode once more under the discounted price at this company before the offer expired.
A little bit later, a friend of my therapist offered lessons in natural horsemanship for me and a friend. She eventually had to stop because she moved to a new barn, but I learned so much about horse handling in the few short weeks that she was able to teach us.
Now, with my interest rekindled, I looked for more ways closer to home that I could get involved with horses. I found a lady in my city who is leasing her two geldings and is offering lessons so that I can spruce up my riding, and I'm starting to volunteer at a local therapeutic riding center.
Now for my goals. I want first and foremost to become a horse trainer and therapeutic riding instructor. Second, I want to learn and compete in dressage. I don't necessarily need to get to Grand Prix, but I do want to try it.
I'll update this thread with any new developments.
Man, it's cold out. It was in the 20s last night, but I made some time to visit with the horse I'm leasing, Bobby.
Right now, we're just trying to get to know each other. He's wary of strangers. Not aggressive towards them, but he does get a bit jumpy and nervous. I want to bond with him so he feels comfortable around me, so I'm going to make time to visit outside of just riding, even when the weather is less than ideal.
When I got to the barn, everyone was bustling around trying to get the horses fed and watered. While Toni (the lady I'm leasing from) wasn't there, her husband and daughter were. They brought Bobby in from the pasture and into the stall. Even in the barn, it was bitter cold, especially with the biting wind. I took the brush and began grooming Bobby. He wasn't comfortable with me going into his blind spots, especially behind him even though I had my hand on him to let him know I was there, so whenever I did he moved so that he could see me. Otherwise, he was calm and gentle.
I was there about 30-40 minutes before calling my ride. While there for only a short time, I needed to go for a couple of reasons. First, I was cold. Second, my phone was almost dead.
While waiting for my dad, I was either in the tack room to get out of the wind or I was at Bobby's stall. I called him over, and surprisingly he left his hay and came up to me. After a moment of petting, he went back to his hay. And that was my adventure for the evening.
Horses and new horsey friendships are so good for your soul :-) Glad you are getting a chance to get to know a horse again! Dressage is a blast and certainly a learning experience. I look forward to following your journey!
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I am not trying to put down your dream of being a horse trainer and riding instructor but I just want to warn you that making enough money to live comfortably in those jobs is very very hard. Not only is the money not the best but there is a lot of competition for those jobs. I was considering to be a trainer and instructor but after listening to how much my instructor makes, she advises to make horses a hobby and not a profession because she wishes she could go back and tell herself that.
I don't mind a low paycheck as long as I'm happy with my work. I'm okay with living simply for a while. I also know that it is a competitive market, and it might not work out. I'm going to work towards it, but I'm also considering a plan B. Maybe being a LPC or a social worker.
Well, I have been thinking...I looked up the average salaries for each profession, and reevaluated what I wanted to do with my life. I decided that I may go to school for social work rather than animal science and become a social worker. Whatever I do, I will probably still do workshops and aim for a certification as a therapeutic riding instructor, but I will only work as an instructor part time. That is what I'm passionate about, and I'm not about to give it up.
Today, the session started at Equest. I got up around 6:15 or so to get ready, and left at about 6:45. My cousin and I got to Equest at about 7:00, and immediately went in to begin grooming and tacking up for the lesson.
We were put on a Quarter Horse named Henry. He was sweet, but a little naughty today since he and the other horses had been inside for the past few days due to snow.
This particular class was mostly hands-off. The riders were independent enough that they didn't need sidewalkers or horse leaders, just spotters and instructors. So, we stood and watched. Still, it wasn't a bad experience for me. I'm a novice rider at this point, so I could learn myself just by watching and listening.
I got to ride today. First time in a long time, so I was a little nervous and insecure. Bobby knew it, no doubt. I am sure I confused the heck out of him, and though I had no fear of being thrown or anything like that, I was afraid towards the end of pushing him too far; even the most gentle of horses have their limits.
It started off well enough. I got to the barn and groomed him. He had rolled in the mud, so it took a bit of time to get the dirt off of him. I'm still very nervous picking hooves, but I managed to do it anyways, which helped my confidence.
We then tacked him up, and he was very good about that. We took him out to the round pen, and I mounted up. I got a bit disoriented and unsure, but once I was on the horse I felt a lot more comfortable. I wasn't happy about the length of the reins, they were much shorter than I was used to, but the saddle was comfortable and the stirrups actually fit my short legs.
I had Bobby walk around the circumference of the round pen, and then I had him trot a little bit. I have trouble with posting and diagonals, so I wanted to practice. However, I believe that due to the length of the reins and my inexperience, I couldn't keep him trotting for any distance. Poor thing, I really do think I confused him. After a while, he stopped walking and wouldn't go anymore. I got the impression that he was a little stressed, especially since he was doing a lot of licking and chewing. I think we need to spend some more time to learn each other, and I need to spend more time learning how to time the cues so they're not as confusing.
keep sight of your goals and let nothing diminish your dream...a social work degree AND certification in the field of equine assisted therapy---your ticket to making your passion pay the bills! especially in light of this--
"An East Texas congressman is taking up a bill that could provide an unconventional therapy to Texas families. Kaitlyn's law is aimed at providing hippotherapy, which is an equestrian therapy for families with disabled children."
the more this is recognized as beneficial the more funding may become available and that usually demands more accountability in the way of "certification"....so--get your plan together and focus on the future--volunteering at Equest is a mature step towards the mountain of education you will conquer--God does move mountains but He expects us to pack our shovel--but we already know that because around horses there is always something to shovel!!!LOL!!!
will be following your progress so keep us posted--wishing you the best in this!
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