|Shine On! Shiny Bits of Wisdom|
Along the way, I also worked as an exercise rider, which was fantastic because it helped me get the job that really gave me my livelihood, as an editor for Practical Horseman and Performance Horseman, which later merged with Horse & Rider. I learned so much working on those publications and later worked as a writer for Rodale Press (publisher of Men’s Health and Prevention) and an editor for Horse Show, Riding Instructor, and The NRHA Reiner. I’ve contributed articles to other equestrian publications and have a feature coming out in the January 2015 issue of Horse & Rider. Horses really gave me my professional life and I am eternally grateful.
What horses do you currently stable?
I have two reiners that I’ve been showing, Wild And Friendly and Black Label Chex. They are both quarter horses. Next year, I’ll also be showing a paint, Briannes Spot. She’s the older sister Teeny, the foal in the book. I ride with Daniel Hoerauf at Nova Reiners in Goldvein, Virginia. As I live in New York, it’s quite a trek to go down there, but I love the philosophy, attitude, and horse-centered program there. It’s worth the extra miles I put on my car!
Do you have a favorite equine anecdote to share?
Laugh when you fall, it keeps you from getting hurt. I learned that the hard way, as you can guess. I was out riding with some friends, and we were jumping whatever we came across. One horse (a very good jumper) had a bit of difficulty with a twisty approach (without a lot of room to gauge stride or speed) to a solid and narrow jump set in between two trees. I should have thought more about that, but I decided to “gun it and go.” My mare veered a bit on the approach and I worried 1) that a tree would take out my kneecap and 2) that she would get hung up on the fence. I decided that I didn’t care about my kneecap, and gave her a solid whack to pick up the rpms. She cleared the fence but, to try to protect my knee, I’d inadvertently pinched her sides with them, which meant I was out of position, and over the fence, we were both airborne… but not together and she was WAY below me. I was laughing because I had done something so silly and landed in a huge heap right in front of her. Gracious mare that she was, she was almost falling down trying not to step on me. Oh well. I got back on and we had a great rest of the day. She was a wonderful horse. I had her from the time she was 2 until she died at 22.
What are your thoughts on the state of the current American horse market?
It’s bad and will get worse. People have so much less exposure to horses today and there are so many competing activities for young people. It’s a shame… kids learn so much from horses that you can’t get anywhere else. I’m sad that so few kids today have the opportunities to spend time with horses that were so important to me.
I am very opposed to slaughter and hope that more stringent regulations to protect horses go into place.
I wish the larger breed associations would be more active in encouraging people not to overbreed and I would like to see everyone become more responsible. I breed a few horses a year and am very careful to do my homework. I am not at all happy with many of the stallions that are aggressively marketed. They are not conformationally correct and, in reining, drug rules are just now starting to go into effect, so you have to do some digging to find out if stallions were trained/shown with pharmaceutical help. I don’t think most people are aware of the magnitude of the problems and the importance of really doing your research. I’m fortunate that a number of horses I bred are doing very well right now for their new owners. Several are with Dutch Chapman, an excellent reining trainer in Maryland, and one is heading to the NRHA Futurity with Tom Hoyt, another trainer who knows what he’s doing. Several are in Daniel Hoerauf’s barn, and it’s so cool to see them with their current owners. I keep up with them.
Do you have a favorite equine organization that you would like to mention?
I love the work that some rescues are doing. Gerda’s Animal Aid is one of my favorites, as is Equine Rescue Resource in Pine Bush, New York. There are so many that do great wok. I’ve never gotten a horse from a rescue, but I have bought horses that were on their way to the killbuyers. One was too thin for the killbuyers! He turned out to be a great horse
Do you have advice for novice riders?
Be realistic in your goals, know that it takes a long time to become a good rider, and find a quality instructor. That’s not always the person with the biggest following or the one who wins the most. I would look for someone who emphasizes safety and the basics—beginners should, in my opinion, spend a lot of time on the longe line and do exercises that build balance and the ability to use different parts of the body independently. That way, you’ll be a functional rider and will make life better for you and your horse.
What does horsemanship mean to you?
Two things: 1) a commitment to lifelong learning to be a better partner to your horse and 2) putting your horse and his welfare first, always.
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