In order for you to understand where I’m coming from I think it’s very important to understand where I’ve been.
I started riding at a pretty early age. I can’t remember exactly when, but I know it was at some point during elementary school. I begged and was finally allowed to take lessons at a stable near my home.
Honestly-the first few years of my young riding career were very non-descript. I went to lessons once a week and rode around for about an hour and then I would go home. It wasn’t until I was told about an organization called 4-H that I considered horseback riding the highest priority of my youth. I showed western performance my first year at the county fair, but showing wasn’t really the highlight that year. While hanging around the show barn I heard my parents discussing possibly owning a horse, so that second I started horse shopping.
We ended up buying a 16 hand, 15 year old thoroughbred mare named Jima. Having already experienced, and developed a lack of interest for the western performance world, I decided to start barrel racing. Jima had never been trained western, but I, in all my fifth grade excitement, got to work right away in a saddle that was far too large in a bit that made absolutely no sense to my horse.
Jima was my learning horse. I rode around and did basically nothing to keep her in shape, I rode her on the patterns way too many times, and I often couldn’t be bothered to put a saddle on. Jima was the horse that I fell off of after I made what would’ve been a winning pole run at the county fair. She was also the horse that taught me that horses are for always, not just while they’re sound and rideable. When her arthritis became too bad, I bought her supplements and let her just be a horse. When her weight started to slip I about went broke buying feed. When it was finally her time to go I cried into her neck and told her how much I loved her while she drifted off to sleep.
When we retired Jima from showing I ended up finding out about a fresh two-year-old APHA mare. We aquired her through a family friend on a temporary basis, but as soon as I met her I was in love. I named her Allegra. Allegra was the first horse I had ever broke out. I trained her as a barrel racer, but I also made sure she had good riding basics. We won our contest horsemanship class two (three?) years in a row, and one judge said that “even he could have rode that horse and won”. My last year showing in 4-H we won the barrel class. Allegra is definitely my proudest achievement.
Currently I have Allegra and her miniature donkey, Cocoa, on my farm.