Hmmmm... I think you'll find that everyone has had a different journey. Some are born into it, lucky enough to have horsey parents. Some, like me, just have that horse loving gene but parents who are not at all knowledgeable about horses. Mine still got me my first pony when I was 5 so I can say that I had my first horse before really knowing very much about their care or even how to ride. I know it sounds cute and glamorous to have a pony at that age, but really, she was kept at my uncle's barn with cows and because my parents were slightly terrified of horses in general, but this feisty mare pony specifically, I was only allowed to ride her on a lead line. I don't even remember brushing her. My first real horse came when I was about 11 and I had 6 months of riding lessons, which was more than most people I knew ever had. I read books, devoured Horse Illustrated magazine, but there was no Internet back then, so I just muddled along really. I sold him when I was 17 because I left home for university.
Fast forward a couple of decades without horses, one day, my 6 year old asked for riding lessons and the journey started again. This time, I had enough financial independance to make sure she had all the knowledge she ever wanted and needed. She has been taking lessons for 9 years now, and just got certified for her English rider level 6 (not sure where you are, but in Canada, we have rider levels for English and Western and each one teaches riding, but also stable management, horse anatomy, care, disease prevention - a whole slew of things). I think it's wonderful that kids can do this and receive certification. Coaches must go through each of these steps as well if they want to advertise they are certified by Equestrian Canada. So you might consider looking up a similar type program (or go to the Equestrian Canada website for a TON of free content!).
However, nothing replaces a good mentor. While you might think I knew a lot about horses from previous ownership as a child/teen, everything has changed so, so much since I had horses back then! The only advantage I may have had is an appreciation for the hard work that comes with owning a horse. Otherwise, nutrition, hoof care, turnout, everything has basically changed completely since then. So I still read a ton. I follow some useful websites. I did an online liberty and ground work training course. But one of the best sources of up-to-date knowledge has been my trimmer. She was an unexpected source of knowledge about everything horses. You may find someone like this at the rescue ranch.
It sounds like you're already doing a lot so I'd say just keep it up. Knowledge may come from unexpected places and opportunities, but keep doing clinics, they are also very beneficial.
Oh yes, and if you are interested in the show scene at all -- or even if you aren't ever planning to show but are curious -- volunteer to help out at a show! I joined the regional equestrian association committee and actually just organized my first show. I learned a lot from being around show officials including the judge, steward, etc. I will never show, but my daughter does, so I thought it would be a good way for me to understand what they're all about and how they work, and I was right!
Last edited by Acadianartist; 09-27-2020 at 05:59 PM.