My equestrian adventure began . . . when I was very young - around four or five, I think. I would always ask my parents if I could ride the ponies at the fair - or if we could pull over on road trips to see the horses on the side of the road. Then every summer, my family would go camping in Pieru. Friends of ours had a ranch there - the owner was a good old boy called Doug Benjamin. Doug would always put me on his big, gray – or as I thought, white – quarter horse. When I rode that horse, I felt like I was on top of the world. My equine obsession grew stronger and stronger. So my parents thought if they got me into riding lessons, I might stop asking for a horse every time they turned around. Boy were they wrong!
Most often found atop . . . Most of the time you'll find me with my four-year-old Arab gelding, Cairo. Why a four-year-old Arab, you say? Well, he keeps life very fun and interesting for me. The clockwork is always ticking behind those blue eyes of his.
Likes to brag about . . . I've ridden a horse through a Taco Bell as well as an In'n'Out drive through. Can't get any better than that – horses and food! Now that's excitement!
A horse that changed my life . . . Chad was a 15.2-hand, flea-bitten gray Arab Quarter cross, and perfect in every way. He was my first lesson horse, my first love, and my best friend growing up. I did some crazy things when I was a kid, like riding through fast food drive thrus and riding double bareback through the busy streets of my home town. Chad always took care of me no matter what. He taught not only me to ride, but my friends, too. Even my husband! Seeing him come to the gate and nicker for me. The feel of his warm neck when I hugged him was the high of my day. He was such a good boy, I could walk-trot-canter on him without any tack on and ride backwards! We were together for over fifteen years. He was forty when I lost him. They say horses leave hoof prints on our hearts. I believe that's true.
Worst ride ever . . . Hmm . . . that's a toughie. One ride stands out in my mind specifically. Sadly, I even have it on video, to remind me over and over again!
I was about twelve or thirteen, I think. It was the first horse show in which I wasn't riding my own horse. I had worked very hard for weeks with this bay Arab mare named Lady Bonique, a.k.a. Nikki. The day of the show I was so excited - it was my first A-circuit Arab show! My horse looked great and I had a new hunt coat. I was ready!
All and all the show was great. I placed in most classes. Then my second to last class came. Again, everything was going great - until we came around the arena at a trot and Nikki stopped dead in front of the gate. I tried everything to get her to move, but she was planted, like a statue. I was so embarrassed, I bawled. My trainer was standing outside the gate and told me to go over to the judge and ask to be excused. So I dismounted, my face soaked in tears. I walked over to the judge, excused myself, and left the ring.
Greatest inspiration . . . my greatest inspiration would have to be my dad. He's always worked so hard and sacrificed to give his family the best he ever could. He would even take the time to ride bareback on my friend's horse while I exercised mine.
Best thing about teaching . . . Watching students and horses excel – especially when they get to the point where they feel like a partner with the horse. When a student gets that feeling of accomplishment or a horse learns a new maneuver. Watching them progress fills me with more joy and pride than I thought possible.
Words to live by . . . the only way you truly fail is by not trying at all.
I'd love to . . . get Cairo ready to compete in the Fiesta Del Mar - and go team penning.
I wish someone had told me . . . that building corrals from the ground is a pain in the butt.
If I weren't a riding instructor . . . I would probably be a very poor college student working my way through vet school or working toward a degree in equine science.