>> March 27, 2011 – early years
When Fox Hollow Sport Horses came to town, I couldn’t believe it. Who would want to breed eventing warmbloods in rural southern Illinois, population: next to nothing? I would love to say I took regular lessons from Laura, but for some reason it was more sporadic than it should have been. I don’t know why. She was a good trainer and had so much to teach me, so what I did get from her was fantastic.
What I did get from her was my first taste of Dressage. She never called what we did Dressage, but looking back now, I realize that she was giving me a firm foundation in it, and much of it is coming back to me now.
|Calvin, the 18hh+ Oldenburg. Photo from summer of 2007.|
It was my first taste of being a pony jockey: at 5’0 and just over 100lbs, (Hey, I’m still 5’0 and 100lbs, if anyone wants an adult pony jockey, give me a call!) I looked enough like a little kid that she asked me to ride her ponies in sales videos. That’s how I met Venice, but we’re not there yet.
I also rode an 18hh Oldenburg, my first warmblood ride, who rode like a dump truck and I needed a stepladder to bridle him. I rode Mustang Sally, and I’m still not sure what breed she was. I got experience, for the first time, honing my skills on a variety of horses and body types.
|Mustang Sally. Not a Mustang.|
By far, the most magical ride I ever had occurred while I was home for the summer from college and Laura had an imported Hanoverian mare there to foal out. She was showing third level, trained through fourth, and my God. To a kid who’d only ever ridden your run of the mill Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, that was breathtaking. Her movement, especially her canter, was more up than forward. I remember being amazed that I could see her knees in front of her chest at the canter, and asking why it felt like she was going up with each stride.
Although I didn’t have all of the buttons I needed to ride her well, what I got was life changing. I finally knew what it felt like to ride something well-bred and well-trained, and I began to understand why some people spent thousands of dollars on horses instead of searching for diamonds in the rough. I also felt total control over a ride for the first time, and I began to fall in love with Dressage.