Here we go again! I want to continue to spotlight adult amateurs who love horses and how they make it work. We all know the challenges of horse involvement--time, money, stress, life, etc. Here's a look at how Kate from the Adventures of Lucy tackles full time work and one very special mare.
1) You’re at dinner with work colleagues. How do you introduce yourself?
I've been working at my current job for about six months but I made quick work of the social scene and feel pretty comfortable around my work colleagues, so I'd just say, hey guys! I am kind of an introvert but work very hard to hide it. If I am at work and meet someone I don't know, I walk right up to them and shake their hand even though I really don't want to!
2) But what you really meant to say was this:
"Where's the menu?" (what can I say, I love food)
Lucy is my 6yo OTTB mare. I got her as a 3yo almost fresh off the track. She had no idea what leg meant and didn't know how to steer, if that's any indication of what I had to work with :D She is either a total sweetheart or a complete nut job...good thing she's really pretty and very talented. She is the definition of a pro ride and I am absolutely NOT a pro, so we do the best we can! Some days it isn't pretty but we do have moments of glory.
She belonged to a 15 year old girl who had no idea what she was doing with her. In fact, she was downright petrified of her, which is kind of ironic because at the time, she hadn't put a foot wrong! She was just huge and gawky, and had zero training since retiring from racing. Anyway, this girl had gotten her off the track and then didn't really do much with her. Lucy dropped a huge amount of weight and condition and by the time I met her in October of 2009, she looked like she needed a major upgrade, and fast. The whole reason I met her, though, was that I was trying to start a little photography business so I had advertised free sessions for people who would be willing to let me use the images to promote my business. Lucy's owner responded, and I went out to photograph her other horse. After I was finished, she mentioned she had this thoroughbred that she had just gotten and asked me if I wanted to meet her. At that point she had been off the track just a couple months and looked a little thin, but nothing alarming. She was very cute but at the time, she wasn't for sale so that was really the end of it! In November I started looking for my own horse after leasing horses my whole life, and the girl contacted me to tell me she wanted to sell Lucy. I was originally shopping for a horse between the ages of 5 and 10 that had a good foundation (and I love chestnut geldings so that was what I had in mind!). The owner was persistant, though, and I ended up trying her one night in the dark in an outdoor with no fence around it in the middle of the woods in a rural town with more cows than humans. The horse had no clue what I was asking, but she was so sweet and so honest, and wasn't bothered about all the other horses getting fed while she was out working in the ring. I fell in love with her (and also felt compelled to buy her because by then, she looked like CRAP and the situation she was in was not a good one). She passed a vet check that cost me more than her purchase price that weekend, and came home the next day!
Well, the first year or so was challenging because she had ulcers and I kept procrastinating getting them diagnosed because I wasn't sure if it was really ulcers or not. I finally got her scoped and then she went through a month of treatment. I wish I had done that right off the bat because maybe that first year wouldn't have been so, um, painful! I got tossed many many times. Then we dealt with saddle fit issues, then crazy heat cycles, but after a whole lot of chiro and saddle fitter visits, and some mare supplements, we finally got on the right track.
By year two, I had learned how to sit the buck/scoot/spin/leap and we were making some progress. We went to some hunter paces, started trail riding (and she loved it!), and even did a little hunter show in the summer. Winter came, and "Winter Lucy", as I like to call her alter ego, returned with much fanfare. She was kind of a huge psycho. We both made it through, though!
This year was the best by far. I have always wanted try eventing and this year we finally got out there and did it! We had so much fun and Lucy was GREAT. She hates dressage, so that is what we really need to work on, but she is a super jumper and very brave XC. We kept it very simple, showing in the "Elementary" division at unrated events, but my main goal was for her not to be overfaced, and to have fun! She is still extremely challenging on some days, but I treat each day like a brand new book, and never hold yesterday against her, no matter how bad she was.
6) Where are you going together?
Umm, some days, I feel like we're heading right for the edge of a very tall cliff. But other days, I see glimmers of hope and think that we could go quite far. I don't think she would have any problems doing the upper levels with the right rider, but I am not that brave! If we got around BN safely I would be thrilled. I think Novice would be the furthest I would go.
I have a wonderful full-time job that I get paid well for, but I work extremely hard. I also run a design business on the side, making customized ornaments, painting saddle pads, doing logo and web design, etc. I work constantly! I also rough-board to keep costs down. My day starts at about 6am and ends at about 9. Here's my typical day: I get up, get ready for work, go to the barn in heels and a skirt, exchange my heels for my muck boots, clean my stall, put my heels back on, go to work for 8 hours, go back to the barn, change into riding clothes, ride, cool the horse out and put her away, feed the rest of the horses (it's a co-op; my job is afternoon chores and feeding), go home, walk the dog, make dinner, take care of any design work that needs to be done, snuggle the hubby, collapse.
8) How often do you ride?
I try to ride at least 5 days a week. If I don't, I usually have a crazy horse to deal with. But there are weeks where I just don't have the energy to ride every night, so she either gets the day off or I will give her a good grooming, or lunge in side reins. Some days we go for a walk in the woods, me leading her instead of riding. For two and a half years, I had the most wonderful woman half leasing Lucy but she recently bought her own horse so it's all on me now!
9) What’s the single biggest thing that helps you achieve your goals?
Well, my husband is extremely supportive of my insanity and I also really never give up on anything. There were days that I fell off twice in one ride because she was just being so outrageous, but I always, ALWAYS get back on unless there are extenuating circumstances. What can I say, I am as stubborn as my horse is.
10) If there was one thing you could say to people getting ready to join the ranks of riding (or re-riding) adults, what would it be?
Horses are truly a passion! If they're in your blood, you can't avoid it :D Being an equestrian is part of who I am. Even if I sell Lucy eventually, I will still always be a horsewoman and I am sure I will always be involved in horses in some way. It's such a fun sport with many many different ways to get involved. There is something for everyone.
Horses keep you humble and if you don't have a sense of humour, things are going to be tough! But overall: 1. I'm bonkers. 2. so is my horse. 3. we're kind of perfect for each other!!
I'm definitely inspired by the people I'm interacting with putting this series together. There are so many cool ways to connect with horses and the effort to stay engaged when the parental paycheck is gone is fun to explore. Want to be a part of the series? Know someone who should be? Contact me either by email (on the contact us page) or through the comments.
Don't forget!! We're closing in on the last days to enter the 'Tis the Season photo contest. Entries close at midnight on 12/31. There's a cool prize and you'll get featured here, so send your entry in today!