Friday, September 19, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop: Why do you do what you do?

Jenn from Stories from the Saddle started a new blog hop! 

She wants to know: Why do you do what you do?

Excellent topic! Perhaps this wasn't the intent, but I'm going to take this as an opportunity for a little trip down memory lane. Throwback Thurs.., er, Friday?? 

I learned to ride at a barn that didn't outwardly align itself with a specific discipline. We were quite isolated, actually, and the trainer/owner was very traditional and strict. She was certain that her way was not only the best way, but the only way. 

We didn't show, per se, except for one big year-end event that was a closed-barn demonstration to show our parents where their money went.

she liked drill patterns performed to military tunes. go figure
(i'm on the tall blaze-faced mare Toby)

So I really didn't know much about the wider world of horses, though I got an excellent education on all things horse care related. I now recognize the barn as being mostly dressage-oriented, though we jumped occasionally, and the trainer's fundamental philosophy was traditional, balanced seat riding.

when you got to a certain age, you did dressage tests instead of drill patterns.
i could not for the life of me get Candy to canter in our test.

it was actually quite idyllic

I started riding at hunter barns when I joined the IHSA team in college because that was the de facto discipline. I really loved the barn where the team practiced, so when I graduated and moved, I found a barn that was similar (more on these barns here and here). This was more about seeking the familiar than actually knowing what was out there, or what my goals were. 

It's kinda interesting, in retrospect, because I've never really fit in super well with the hunter world. That's not to say that I felt excluded or out of place (I didn't and don't) - I just never felt that my talents (or lack there of? lol) where a great match. 

doing my hunter thang with Lad in Rochester, circa 2006

In any case, things got interesting when I found Isabel (or when she found me?). I had a *very* affordable six month lease on her, and figured she'd serve to get me into good enough shape to be successful at my new hunter barn after a few years off. 

But a funny thing happened - Isabel became an exciting mount in her own right and I extended the lease indefinitely. Then I discovered this excellent blogging community, and was really inspired by all the various ways you enjoy your horses and fit them into your lifestyles, regardless of resources and background. 

I realized that I had a special horse on my hands, and that I'd never get the same kind of animal at this cost ever again. 

oh hai. wanna have some fun?

By this time I was educated enough in various disciplines to recognize that I'd be squandering my game arabian mare's talents by squishing her into a hunter mold. So I started thinking about which disciplines she could excel in. Obviously anything trail related - trail challenges or endurance, for instance. 

But my heart has always been in jumping. And I've always had a fixation on cross country (despite my wussiness lol). Getting judged on just time and faults? And scrappiness is rewarded?? Yea, Isabel can do that. 

So we took the dive into eventing this spring. We started dressage and jumping lessons, and have been xc schooling together twice. And our first full three-phase horse trial is coming up in just over a week. That makes us official, right? :)


  1. Thanks for participating! Great trip down memory lane :)

  2. Nice write-up on your journey! I love how you evolved and found out where you find the most enjoyment!

    1. thanks! it's been a fun ride so far. my next big idea is trying to get my barn to do a big gaming type day with the lesson kids - we'll see if that gets any traction :)

  3. That totally makes you official :) I think it's great how you ended up where you are and that you went with a discipline you knew your horse would enjoy! Good luck!

    1. Awesome thanks! And it's def easier all round when Isabel is happy lol


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