Best Way for a Not-So-Newbie to Learn More?
So, I'm new to this forum, and was wondering what everyone's best advice is to learning about horses.
I have been riding at the same barn since I first began, back when I was fairly young (about 9 years ago). I rode very inconsistently. I rode for two or three summers and didn't get back in the saddle for about three or four years after that. When I did finally did start riding again, I had a bad trainer who I wasted about 2 and a half years with, never really progressing and constantly feeling discouraged.
I am now with an excellent trainer and am progressing fairly well (even only riding one hour a week), but I still am not satisfied with where I am now (in terms of experience, not riding; again I am happy with how my riding is now progressing).
I see a lot of people my age who have been riding as long as I have (sometimes less than I have) or started the same age I did, and they are so much further along in their skills and experience. Many of these people's parents recognized their children's commitment while mine took a while to catch on, so others have been more consistent in their riding. So it's always a little frustrating since I know I am in no way as knowledgeable as other people who are my age. I don't know a ton of terminology, or a lot about different tack and basic gear and attire. I can't tell the difference between a horse who is playing with their owner and a horse who is actually being rude and misbehaving, or at least I don't think I can. I would never be comfortable making any kind of horse related purchase (anything from treats to flyspray to tack). I've never even competed before; something I have always wanted to do since I was young. I would love to compete at the collegiate level, but will in no way be prepared enough by the time I get to college.
So my question is: what is the best way to catch up? How can I learn more about things as simple as daily care, horse behavior, medical emergencies, training, and showing? Where's the best place to begin and gain as much experience as I can so I can feel much more confident about working with these amazing animals?