It's time for another round of meeting the most interesting people in the horse world: the adult amateurs who make it happen even with all the challenges of real life. Ever wonder how they do it? Me too. Here's the latest feature blogger, Emily from A Mile High on Horseback.
1) You’re at dinner with work
colleagues. How do you introduce yourself? Hey guys, I’m sure you’ve all seen me walking
around, my name is Emily if you need a name to go with the face. If I haven’t gotten the chance to stop by
your desk and say hi and ask how your day has been then here I am, l love my
horses, my family and being outside, and I enjoy making small talk, how about
2) But what you really meant to say was this: This
meal better not have anything to do with work – let’s just have a good time!!
3) Tell us about your horse: Ah, Call Me Mr Cash, also
known as Mr Handsomepants (but he just goes by Cash most of the time). He is a 9 year old OTTB gelding who raced for
nearly 4 years, won a few races and earned about $38k before he came to
me. He’s big (16.3hh), bold, lazy yet
energetic (right?), athletic, brave, easily distracted, and affectionate. He kinda reminds me of John Wayne, big and
tough on the outside but really a total softy. He is the kind of horse that makes you earn
his affection, but once you earn it he will give it readily and is an
in-your-pocket kind of horse. He’s
freakishly scopey over fences and has three very lovely gaits, what I love the
most is how he naturally lifts his back in the canter, it’s an awesome feeling.
4) How did you meet him/her? Well, before I had my baby I was
cleaning stalls on a regular basis for a couple who have this to die-for setup. I wasn’t really looking for a horse at the
time, but I was putting away money with the intentions of starting my horse
hunt for a youngster come summertime. Well,
these folks both work at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital here at Colorado
State University, and it was a connection through the school that the wife
heard about this horse available from a local Thoroughbred breeder. I was out cleaning stalls one afternoon almost
exactly a year ago when she walked in and goes “Hey Emily! I found a horse for
you!” ... “Oh?” – Well, I went and looked at him and he was wild as could be on
a blustery winter day after sitting untouched in a paddock for 4 months. But I watched him go, rode him a little, liked
what I saw (like a huge floaty trot--yum), and the purchase price was exactly
the amount I had saved up so far in my horse fund. Perfect.
5) What have you done together? Well, not much! See, not but two weeks
after I bought Cash I found out I was pregnant.
How’s that for timing? I was able
to get some solid ground work and lunging skills on him, and then one month of
riding before I had to give over the reins to someone else. I didn’t have the $$ to put him with a
trainer so I put an ad up on craigslist (my favorite-est website ever, well…
along with ebay) asking if anybody wanted a project horse for the summer. I made it very clear this was a big and VERY
green off the track horse that needed an experienced rider. I got several responses and went with a gal
who ended up doing a wonderful job with him; I can’t thank her enough for
spending her time on my horse. I just
recently picked up riding him again mid-November and we’ve been focusing on
mostly dressage work (I’m one of those weird eventers who actually loves
dressage), we’ve had a small setback as of late with some cracking hooves
(booo), but I can’t wait to get him going and start jumping him again!
6) Where are you going together? If it all goes as planned: The
Colorado Horse Park CCI* event is our goal. And I want to achieve this within
the next five years (if I didn’t have work, school, and a very limited
lesson/show budget I could do it in two… but, yeah, gotta give breathing room). Cash is more than capable of competing at
(and even winning) that level. I can’t
7) How do you finance the addiction? Blood, Sweat, and Tears. …..
Ok, not really. But it is a lot of work
and I often clean stalls or do other various barn chores to cut down on my
boarding costs (which, no thanks to this drought we’ve been in, have gone
through the roof, ugh), I will also teach lessons and do training here and
there. It pretty much comes down to
being able to budget, budget, and budget some more. Knowing where my money is going each month,
even each week, allows me to keep my head above water and even have some extra
spending money here and there.
8) You balance a combination of kids,
work, and school while maintaining an adult relationship. What top three things
help you stay focused? The
first and foremost is honestly my faith, knowing that God has a plan for my
life and will always provide for my family and I absolutely keeps me from going
insane from all that I have on my plate (and trust me, it’s a big plate!!). Next would be a positive attitude, when you
tackle any problem with an “I can do it!” attitude it makes all the difference.
Third would be being able to find some
down time. Now this isn’t necessarily “me”
time, it could be hanging out with the family and watching a movie together,
but the important thing is that it’s time when I don’t (and won’t) think about
the nasty customer at work, the exam I have next week, or the dirty dishes in
9) How often do you ride? Not as often as I’d like. I
aim for four times a week, if I can get more, even if it’s only ten minutes of
walking, then awesome! Often, with the baby, it can be hard to get a solid uninterrupted
period of time to work with the horses, so I take whatever I can get.
10) What’s the single biggest thing
that helps you achieve your goals?
Determination. Without a doubt.
It’s the ability to soldier on no matter how hard or how long it may be
taking to achieve that goal. (Having a husband who is encouraging and
supportive is a big help as well!)
11) 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? Be
ready to compromise. Be ready to abbreviate. As adults we obviously have adult
responsibilities, like making dinner for the family, running kids to soccer
practice, picking up a couple extra hours at work, keeping the hubby happy ;) …
Sometimes the two hours you thought you had to spend at the barn turns into
only half an hour. But just because you
don’t have the time you thought, don’t pass on the barn altogether, get out
there, see your horse, take him on a quick walk, groom him, whatever. He’ll be happy to see you, and you’ll feel
better for it, because you at least accomplished something, even if it wasn’t
what you had intended to do.
12) Bottom line: I thought about this answer all day,
and decided to fall back on a recent quote that I read on Eventing Nation: “Plans are always made in pencil but writing
down your goals makes your dreams achievable” – Sinead Halpin. The bottom line is even as an adult amateur don’t
be afraid to dream big, make those goals and work towards them and don’t give
up, no matter how many speed bumps you may hit along the way. And most importantly: Have fun doing it!!!
Many thanks to Emily for taking time out of her busy schedule to share! She's a fun blogger and I have nothing but respect for mothers getting it done (and aiming past Prelim, eek!).