Can I even start a horse journal without actually having a horse? Well, I'm going to anyway.
The purpose of this thread is to keep myself organized, and to keep track of my thoughts and progress. I like to gain knowledge on a subject as much as I can before jumping into it.
A little about me… I've loved horses my whole life. I'm the one 'That Horse Girl' every non-horse person seems to know.
My first official lessons were with Diplomat. I was around 8, and immediately became smitten. My grandma took me to a trainer where she lived whenever she could afford to, so that wasn't very often but I loved every moment of it.
At around 10 years old, my cousin (roughly 20 years older than me) started taking me out to the barn where she rode some horses that belonged to friends of hers. I started out on a Shire mare… yes, a tiny 10 year old girl on a horse so big that my legs were barely able to wrap around her. She was a gentle giant though, and was a perfect starter horse.
Soon I started to occasionally ride a Welsh Pony who taught me a lot about keeping my seat on him. ;)
Some time went and the Shire passed, and so I alternated between the Welsh and two Arabs. My favorite one was named Akihba, hence my username.
As I was getting into my early teen years, my cousin found a starving grey Arab cross on a remote property. She was able to get him out of that situation and nursed him back to health. After a few years he was fit to ride, and he was my occasional riding horse for the past 10 years. Grey Lightning is the horse in my profile picture. (photo by Clare Cassidy)
I spent most of my childhood riding on beautiful Californian hills, simply having fun with horses and learning the basics. I rode a bit of Western, but largely preferred English. I never did any showing, or any serious horsekeeping for that matter. I made it out to the barn every Saturday as a kid, and then maybe 1-2 times every other month as a teen. I'm very grateful my cousin let me be a part of her horse life.
Now, I've moved out of California to Seattle. Loving it here, though I do admit I miss the endless sunshine. Cousin also moved her horse further away. I made time to go out and say goodbye before my move here.
Here in Seattle I find myself missing the whole horse scene and I'm trying to find my way back into it. I've reached out to several barns asking for any work/volunteer opportunities. The few that responded quickly cut off contact the moment I told them I was deaf, and so communication was going to take a tidbit more of effort on both of our parts. One person still expressed interest in meeting me, but our correspondences are veeeerrrryyy slow so it might be a good while before I can get out there.
I'm going to be moving from Bellevue, WA to Seattle within the next few months so I'm not looking to attach myself to a certain barn at the moment. I'm window shopping, if you may. I HATE commuting. The easiest way to make me lose motivation/passion in something is commuting to it. The ideal barn would be 20ish minutes to get to, no more than 30. What I'm looking for is a laid-back environment that isn't focused on a certain riding discipline (since that's usually where the horse snobs gather... am I wrong in looking to avoid this?). Ideally with affordable boarding should I be able to lease a horse in the future.
My goal right now is just to get back in the swing of things. Even though I've been riding for about 10 years, I still feel like a complete newbie. Sure, I know how to keep my seat on a horse (I'm very good-- or should I say lucky?-- at not falling off), but I feel like I never really got to know the fundamental basics of riding and keeping a horse. My cousin did everything. All I knew, I learned from her. Don't get me wrong, she wasn't a bad horseowner or anything, in fact she was excellent and patient with me. But she was just a horse owner, not a trainer. I never learned that it was possible to teach a horse how to collect himself, never learned a proper seat, never learned how to listen to a horse. And that's where I want to begin.
Let's backtrack a bit. Cousin had a OTTB for a short time (she sent him to sit at pasture after an incident that proved he was too much to handle). At this point in time I had graduated HS and bought my own car, so I had full access to the horses anytime I felt like going to the barn. Truth be told, I was afraid of him. I only rode him two or three times while my cousin was there. He was HOT and HUGE. He was very sensitive to touch. I could not brush him without him objecting and kicking at his belly, oftentimes dangerously close to me. One time I had to leave him with dried mud crusted on all over simply because I could not safely brush him and I felt horribly guilty for the horse. I felt like I'd failed him because I was afraid. Now, armed with new knowledge and looking back on it, I think I was right to be fearful of him. He was not a well-behaved horse. Would not stand still whatsoever, was pushy and all up in my space, and very reactive. If I had the chance to go back and work with the horse again, I would have started from the ground up. You may be asking 'why didn't I do that in the first place?'-- well, like I said, I didn't know anything about horses other than how to sit on their backs and steer them. Not to mention I was going through a period of severe depression so I barely had any motivation to work with the horses. (I'm ok now.)
Yes, that's me on him. Yes, that's the horse rearing. Did I fall off? No. Pretty fortunate that I didn't, as I wasn't wearing a helmet for my senior photos. (Pic by Clare Cassidy). In a way I'm grateful for what that OTTB taught me. I was fortunate to spend my childhood riding kid-safe horses, and probably took that for granted.
Anyway, back to the present. Before I even start working at a barn or think about leasing a horse, I want to do it right this time. Meaning, being an active part of the horse's training. As someone said, every second you spend with the horse is a teaching moment. Horses don't stop listening to you once you're out of the arena.
And so, I came back to this forum (I originally signed up in 2013 but wasn't active) and this place has already lent me so many useful tips. I joined horse groups on FaceBook, and I'm watching Warwick Schiller's YouTube videos. I plan on subscribing to him once I have the money for it. I really like his approach to horses.
Okay, as you can see, I like to talk. If you made it to this point, congratulations! (Did I hook you in with the pictures? I love photos a lot.) I may be a bit scattered as I try to put my thoughts together, please bear with me if you're going to keep reading. You're welcome to come along for the ride. I appreciate constructive criticism and feedback.
Although I'll be putting together things to research and questions to ask, I will be making separate posts in the appropriate forum subsections. So this thread is not really here to look for answers to specific questions, just to keep everything in one place and to update on my progress.