“The Equestrian Bookie”
Many of you who have followed this blog know that I work with horses, and some of you want to know more. I decided it was time to share a little bit more about my equestrian side, and how it inspires & influences my blog.
Influence & Inspiration
“Because partnership with a horse is ancient and primal and all consuming, and writers and storytellers are still drawn to that territory, so that riding begets reading.” -Lawrence Scanlan, Wild About Horses
As bolded above in the quote, I firmly believe in Scanlan’s observation that riding begets reading. When I was a young, I would get carried away in the stories about horses, like Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, and for the 90’s kids, The Saddle Club series. I wanted to feel that unspoken connection between horse and rider for myself, and at the time, the only way to do so was to read. My love for historical fiction also came about as I noted the noble equines mentioned in many periodic novels, and their role aiding man.
Just as reading is a passion of mine, so is the love for horses.
How It All Began…
When I was little, I was like every other girl who was fascinated by horses. However, I think my parents always assumed I’d grow out of it. When I was 11, my elementary school had a program that allowed students to explore certain sports and hobbies, and every Friday afternoon for nine weeks in the fall, students would go off to these activities. Of these programs, two cost extra money- skiing, and horseback riding. My dad, an avid skier, offered to pay the extra so I could learn to ski, but I pitched a fit (let’s be honest here) and made an argument for riding. It was my DREAM, guys, and I didn’t want to miss out! So they gave in and I spent the next four years (from 5th grade to 8th grade) taking riding lessons.
At the completion of the last nine week session in 8th grade, my riding instructor encouraged me to keep riding and offered up a group lesson class with girls my age. My parents knew how much I loved riding and being with the horses, so from then on, they supported me as much as possible, allowing me to take weekly lessons, eventually joining the local 4H (Go Horsepower!) and when in high school, allowing me to drive up on the weekends to work off extra riding time. I think my parents just gave up on the thought that I’d grow out of the horse-crazy phase!
Certified Horse Crazy
After high school, I decided I wanted to major in Animal Science, and after my college adviser convinced my parents that yes, I could get a job in the equine industry and afford to eat, I went to a two year Associates program and received my degree in Applied Animal Science with a specialization in Equine Business Management.
This was an expensive but also priceless experience for me, as I learned so much- not only about equine husbandry, but about business management, accounting, anatomy and first aid, networking, grant and technical writing, and a ton of other things that have transferred into my daily life. Additionally, I took a “field trip” to the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in Lexington, KY and got my first taste of the Horse Capital of the World.
By Way of Maine….
After graduation, I took on a few working student jobs before I landed a cool barn manager position on Hope Island in Casco Bay, ME. Yes, I lived on an island, and it was both awesome and also difficult. There were 11 horses to care for, each with their own personalities and specific needs. Safety was vital, because if the horses needed a vet, or the human needed a medic, it was a 20 minute boat ride to and from the mainland. So over the course of a year, I learned how to: pack a cooler with food supply for a weeks worth at a time; read the weather and the tides, sufficiently surviving Hurricane Sandy and Winter Blizzard Nemo; and care for more than just horses (chickens, guinea hens, sheep, peacocks, ducks, swans, and deer). I also expanded my equine management skills by putting them to the test, as well as learned how to drive a carriage!
Still, after that 2012 trip, Lexington had become the goal. My brother has recently moved to Kentucky, and I had family friends there, so I knew that I could defeat any homesickness by having them so near, especially since my family from Vermont usually visited every year. Lexington was where the equine industry was celebrated, and I knew it would provide more opportunities for me to grow as an equestrian.
I got my break for Lexington by getting hired on at one of the most prestigious veterinary clinics in the country- Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. After learning more than can articulate about the life of an equine vet tech, I found that the night shift and emotional drain was too much, I started working at an equine association, where I’ve been employed for over four years- which kept me in the equine industry, but also allowed the schedule to not only start blogging, but to also spend time at the barn during daylight hours.
Once A Horse Girl…
I don’t think I’ve ever been asked directly why I’m so passionate about horses, but I know I’ve contemplated it often. Personally, there is nothing like escaping to the barn for a ride to clear my head. These days we are so wrapped up in our jobs, kids, responsibilities… stressed out, technology laden, and bogged down in appointments. It’s difficult to just take a minute and enjoy the moment. So that’s why I ride and work with horses – it’s a break (sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes a glorious couple of hours) from the daily plagues. You don’t necessarily need to be astride to be connected with horses- you just have to walk into the barn, take a deep breath, and listen to the knickers that greet you. Oh, and as my dad says, just keep smiling.