My background with horses and dressage is an extensive one. I am only 27 years old, but I fell in love with the sport at age 7. 20 years in, I have felt heartbreak, loyalty, determination, disappointment, betrayal, precision, distance, achievement and everything else in between. I want to share with you my story – from kickoff to its current state. The beauty and frustration of this sport is that you never stop learning and at no time will you stop being challenged. This is the beginning of my story.
I was seven years old when my mom took my sister and me out to a barn for our first riding lesson. An equestrian growing up, my mom couldn’t wait to expose us to the equine world. She was so excited for that moment, I am almost certain she had us outfitted in the full get-up – rubber tall boots, breeches and equestrian inspired tops. We looked the part but the truth was, we knew absolutely nothing.
I’ll never forget the first horse our first trainer, Sue Erickson, introduced us to. Her name was Shawnee and from what I remember, she was a rescue off the track. She was a very hot, golden bay, pacing and racing full speed within the confines of the indoor arena. I felt captivated by her unrestraint and majestic movement. I imagine it was in that moment that I became absolutely enamored by horses.
Fast forward four years and my parents surprised my sister and me with the a big bay thoroughbred I had been working, Devin. He was a B circuit hunter-jumper and being the determined kid I’ve always been, my mission was to make him a dressage horse.. at eleven years of age. He was built like a warm blood but had high-strung thoroughbred tendencies. My mom and dad bought him because my mom ‘fell in love with his looks’ and for the next few years, I sat proudly on him – mostly trying to keep him from getting away from my very gangly, 80 pound self. He had the biggest heart – always trying and always caring. He worked hard to protect me but he couldn’t help but get jazzed up when he’d hear the crackling flags at Indian Hills or see the rolling, open acres at Tower Hill Farm.
When my Mom and I reminisce about Devin, we laugh and often utter “what were we thinking?!” He was by far too much horse for a little kid, but if you know me – you know I would have never admitted it back then. I was driven and competitive. I worked my tail off and I finally convinced my family to haul Devin to an elite dressage barn to get the proper training I needed to start showing. I proved myself by feeding, picking stalls, tacking horses and turning out… every single weekend. I worked off a portion of our steep monthly board payment and tirelessly demonstrated my commitment to the sport. With that, I finally proved myself to the dressage trainers. It was then that I became I working student…