by Gina McKnight
Archived from the June 2021 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.
LM: I was nine years old when I got my first horse. His name was Kennedy, he was about 25 years old. If I remember right, he lived for about six months after we got him. My mom wanted to get me a horse, she grew up with them. So, he was delivered on my ninth birthday and we put him in the backyard until we could find somewhere to board him.
LM: The best part of my life is spending every day with a horse. I am truly blessed. Many people might think I am crazy, but one of my favorite things is cleaning stalls. It’s very relaxing. But for the most part, when you train horses, it gives you the chance to have a lot of horses and get paid at the same time. One of the most rewarding aspects of training is when you get a horse, especially a wild one to come in the middle of the round pen on their own and let you touch them for the first time. It gives me chills every time. They are definitely magical creatures.
LM: Yes, all my books are based on personal horse-related stories. My children’s book “The
Boy Who Couldn’t Talk” is based on a young boy with Autism. Adam was a young boy when I was just a kid who would enter the horse shows in a group we called Unique. My mom started it for children with disabilities.
LM: I don’t know about anecdotes, but several of my children’s books are learning how to read. I love to write poems and rhymes, so one of my favorites, is “Taffy tussled the thistles tangled in her tail trying to taste the timothy.” I don’t know, it's fun sitting with the dictionary coming up with the words to rhyme.
LM: I train using the horse’s natural instincts. A great book to read is Xenophon. He was a Greek general in 355 BC. My first book “The Handbook of Horsemanship” has several references that talk about his training style.
LM: Many years ago, I was given a rodeo bronc to train. She had quit bucking and was of no use to the contractor, so he gave her to me. Her name was Libby, to this day thinking about her brings tears to my eyes. She had a heart; unlike any horse I have ever been around. I used to work with girls that had been abused and Libby had a way of bringing them out of their shells. I miss you very much… Below is the poem she inspired me to write.
The Brilliance of Your Stature
Creates an Image of Perfection
Floating Throughout the Land
Free to Roam
In the Face of Adversity
Your Strength Shines Through
From Every Fiber of Your Being
With a Heart of Fire
Passion to Survive the Existence of Time
Your Chi Flows In a Glow
Infecting Life’s Energy
To the Beings in Your Presence
Through Evolution You Became Extinct
Your Image Silenced from Sight
Although the Essence of Your Soul
Placed In the Ground to Flourish
Once Again. Recognized as
“The Grass Remembers Them.”
GM: What advice do you have for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
LM: Buying your first horse, can be exciting but you must also beware. The best advice is to trust your instincts. When you go to the place and see the horse; look at how the person keeps their barn, tack, and feed room. Are they clean will organized, or messing and cluttered? A good horseman will always have good clean tack and know where things are. Then, how does the horse react to you and the owner? Are they calm and well-behaved? Do they run all over the owner, get pushy or bite? That is the sign of a spoiled horse. Or….. are they nervous and fidgety? That can be a sign of abuse. Trust your instincts, no matter how much you want to buy a horse, take your time. The horse will pick you when it's right. So, if you are not a trainer with experience, be careful.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
LM: Great question… a horseman is someone with a passion in their heart for animals. The only way to train or handle a horse is with love, respect, and natural instinct training. You never break a horse, you train them.
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