How exactly did I get into horses?
A past relationship that I was in. She had two horses and during this time, I had always shown and had a steadily increasing curiosity and interest for horses, I just knew nothing about them. When I mean nothing, I really do mean nothing. I had no idea what a mare was and I had no idea what a gelding was. I was completely lost when I would hear the term "hands."
She would spend a lot of time with her two horses but (aside from a couple times), she wouldn't really let me visit them or see what she does with them. She would always tell me how amazing her horses were and how much they meant to her but never let me do much more - it was frustrating. She would always propose ideas in terms of me coming with her to see her horses but it would NEVER happen, ever. Empty promises - it was incredibly frustrating.
I've only gone with her to see and visit her horses a couple times and I immediately knew right from the very first visit that I had a passion for horses. I had a tingle inside me, a sense of excitement that I haven't had in many years, perhaps a decade. It's not a feeling that we as humans experience often - if anything, perhaps only a few times in our lives.
I would always ask her questions about her horses and she knew that I was very curious about them but what she didn't know was that my growing passion for horses was for real and that I had my goal set of eventually one day buying one of my own.
So when we parted ways, something didn't feel right, and I'm not referring to the feelings after being with someone. Even though I never had the chance to spend much time with her horses, I had a big black empty hole inside me because the one person that I knew and would talk to everyday about her horses and horses in general was no longer a part of my life. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my passion for horses was for real and that it just wasn't a temporary interest that would fade weeks or months later.
I didn't know if it was even possible for me to be around horses ever again because I didn't know a single person who loved horses and lived in the same city. I have many horse friends but unfortunately they all live in the U.S and other parts of Alberta. So because of my lack of contacts, I was stuck in a rut for many many months.
Eventually life carried on as usual, life got in the way, yada, yada, yada. I went back to my daily life, yet I always had horses on the back of my mind. It was a deep curiosity that I had, I just didn't know how to peruse it.
Roughly around November of 2014, I was just sitting at home one day during my vacation week, completely bored out of my mind, realizing that the hobbies that I was once very much into for the past seven years, I have lost complete interest in and that my passion for horses was still burning inside me. I knew I had to do something about it. We all hit a point in our lives where we change, we lose interest in hobbies, sports, etc, because new ones come into our lives. This is exactly what I was going through, a huge shift in my life that would change my life forever.
As much as I wanted to be around horses, I just didn't know how to go about finding opportunities to allow me to do so, so life again would carry on until Christmas. Well here I was once again on my Christmas break with no desire in past hobbies. I would watch endless horses videos on YouTube just to get some sort of satisfaction. But at the end of the day, I just wanted to be around horses. Plain and simple.
So after the new year going into 2015 was when I started looking up all the barns and stables that I could find and contacted them left, right and center. I would explain my situation and offered to do barn chores in exchange for lessons and just having the opportunity to be around horses. I immediately jumped on the very first offer that came in - a huge English stable that homed over 75 jumping and show horses an hour away from home. I remember the day prior, setting up my appointment to be there and that night I could not sleep due to too much excitement built up inside me.
The following morning, showing up at the barn at 7am sharp on a very cold winter Saturday morning to start with morning feed, almost brought tears of joy to my eyes because I was so happy to be given the opportunity to be around horses again. The second that I heard the nickers from the many stalled horses as soon as that barn door opened, I immediately knew that this was where my heart was at. I knew that my passion for horses was here to stay.
So for the next 8 weeks I was out there every Saturday and Sunday for 12 hours a day mucking stalls, mucking paddocks, turning out and bringing in horses, feeding, and doing just about any other barn chore that you can think of. I would be on the road by 6am to arrive for the start of morning feed at 7am and finish the day with a one hour riding lesson. Well unfortunately I could not carry on because the stable did not have liability insurance for volunteers if they were to ever get injured so we had to end things there. I was so incredibly bummed out and discouraged when this happened.
The next thing you know, I am back to where I once was. The following weekend felt so awkward not being at the barn doing chores. I was so determined to get me back to a barn, so this was when I got in touch with my horsey friends again and they suggested (with my situation) that I am far better off doing paid lessons with a trainer than mucking stalls for 15 hours every weekend for a couple lessons. So here I am again back to the drawing board but this time I'm looking up trainers. I found a great trainer who (was still quite a ways from home) I ended up doing weekly lessons with for two months, leading into Easter long weekend.
It was great to be around horses again! This was where I got to ride a 17hh horse and experienced being on the lunge line for the very first time. If you know me then you know that I do not like heights, in fact I am terrified of them. Being thrown onto a 17hh horse was pretty nerve racking for me haha. All I remembered was bounce..bounce..bounce..bounce and that I was going round and round in circles haha.
After a couple months of lessons with this trainer, I wanted more! I wanted to be around horses more than just one day a week. I was so happy and thrilled that I was willing to do anything to explore more and bigger opportunities. So I contacted more barns and more would reply back to me, but it took some time so in the meantime I spent six weeks at a Therapeutic riding center for kids. There is no better feeling in the world than watching children getting on a horse and seeing the smile on their faces, having their fears, worries and everyday struggles immediately vanish.
I eventually ended up volunteering at another large barn in exchange for doing barn chores again. So I did chores, harrowed the arenas, filled the waterers, mucked paddocks, fed the horses every single night for the next four months, didn't miss a single day in those four months! Would take my barn clothes to work everyday, change and head off to the barn straight from work. I was having the time of my life! I was so busy at this place that not long after I ended up discontinuing lessons with my trainer who I have been seeing at the time and I no longer had time to make it out to the Therapeutic riding center.
I ended up buying my mare exactly one month after joining this stable. One month. I knew that I wanted a horse of my own, I just wasn't expecting to buy one so soon. I am a risk taker (because life would be boring if we don't take risks!) and this was one that I was willing to take.
It just so happens while at work on a Monday morning, I, for some odd reason was browsing horses for sale in local ads. I wasn't shopping, just browsing. Not long after I spotted the mare that I ended up buying.
Her ad immediately caught my attention because she has the same interests that I have - cowboy challenge, obstacles, trails, etc. She was also a smaller pony, which is what I prefer to ride from my short experience riding 14, 15, 16, and 17hh horses. The seller was also not terribly far from home and next thing you know I am driving out to see her that same night.
I remember driving out to the premises that night repeatedly telling myself how crazy of a thing I was doing, what business do I have looking at a horse for sale, I am in no shape or form ready to own one of my own.
Turns out, a few days later I pay another visit to this same mare alongside a vet. Exactly a week later, I have officially bought my first horse.
What?! Are you crazy?! You bought a horse when you still know very little about them?!
I was constantly being reminded that green + green often results in black and blue.
Yet despite all the people doubting me, I was so incredibly determined to make this work, and if you know me, you will know that I get that much more motivated when I have people doubting me.
So this was when I started reading horse books. Book after book after book. Video after video after video. Everyday, every night, every spare moment of my days would be spent educating myself on these animals. Then I started attending horse shows, clinics and lectures.
I was totally not expecting to buying my first horse so soon but like the saying goes "We buy things when we least expect it" LOL. This day was when my life changed forever. No life, too busy with the horses!
How exactly did I get into horses?