Like many horse bloggers, it seems, I grew up loving and riding horses, only to fall out of them for a few years once I "grew up" (hah!) and went to college.
I started riding when I was five. I don't remember the name of this cute little POA, but she must have been sweet, because after a few lessons on her, I was HOOKED... and hooked hard.
I quickly graduated to riding the trainer's Arabians. There was Amber (the bay) and Obsession, my favorite, who was a huge Polish-bred chestnut gelding. In photographic retrospect, my instructor probably wasn't the best, as every photo of me riding one of her horses includes side reins or some kind of "keep your head down" training gadget. But I had fun, and learned a lot about riding and horsemanship over the next few years.
I had to tack up my own horse to be able to ride, which is difficult when you're not even 4 ft tall yet and your horse is 15.3hh. But I persevered ;)
When I was ten, my parents bought me my first horse, Empress. She was a greenbroke 4 year old Arabian mare. You can imagine how that went, LOL. She was a cute horse, and very smart, but too much for me to handle.
After a year or two, my parents sold her and I spent a few years without a horse, riding school horses at a new barn. My favorite was "Merlin," a gigantic (17.3hh) ancient OTTB. He and I had some good times. I competed in my first schooling show with him, falling off when he slipped in the mud. I remember falling, getting up and taking a bow before walking all the way across the arena to the mounting block, getting back on, and continuing the class. There's a photo out there of that "precious moment" somewhere... one of these days I'll have to look for it.
I rode various other school horses during this time, like "Susie," a fat, lazy and obstinate appy mare. I rode her English and we showed in 4-H. She would buck like crazy (the only spirited thing she really did haha) if my leg slipped back at ALL when we jumped, so I learned to keep my lower leg steady from her.
With Susie, I won my first blue ribbons, in English Equitation and Bareback Equitation.
After awhile (and a lot of begging, haha) I convinced my parents to let me get another horse of my own. That's when Sly comes in. He was the first horse that I ever really bonded with. He was a Quarab with the patience of a saint, but he would spook at air. He taught me a lot, and together we learned the ropes of dressage and jumping. We were the Grand Champions at the 4-H English Show one year, which remains one of my favorite "horse" memories.
Here I am trying him out for the first time ever... before my parents bought him. The lady in the picture is Cathy Peterson, who was my riding instructor for many years after this.
I even trained him to go western one year for the 4-H fair:
The same year I did this with a friend's pony:
Sly and I with my best friend Sara and her boy, Titan. This was my first show with Sly :-P
I figure this is enough history for one post :-P. Next, I will talk about Flame, my first "heart horse," who started my love affair with chestnut mares.