August 31, 2020

The End of an Era

There are some big changes afoot in CobJockey Land. Starting with the biggest, which is that today is the last day of my home trainer's boarding, training and lesson program. It's not my place to advertise why, although I'll just say she's doing it for all the right reasons, and I'm so proud of her for it.


I'll go into more detail for what this change means for me later, although the short version is, we don't have to change barns and not much will change in my day-to-day. But I feel the need to recap what I will forever look back on as the most transformational relationship in my riding career.

I first reached out to my trainer when I moved to my current city right after getting married in 2010. I found her via an old ad on Craigslist and at the time she didn't have a spot for me in her lesson program. But in early January 2011, days after I started my first "real" job, she emailed me and let me know she had a spot.

I introduced myself as someone who likes the idea of jumping, but was scared to jump after being overmounted in college, and was mainly interested in Dressage. She put me on Dillon, the "steady eddie" 20+ year old retired eventer (warning: cringy early days immature blog posts ahead), and proceeded to rebuild my position from the ground up. She would later describe me as "locked in" to place in the saddle, which I would tell you now was a lot from fear.

Lesson on Mac, June 2011

It would be six weekly lessons before I would canter, and a couple of months after that before I jumped a fence. By that point, I trusted her. She had never put anything in front of me I couldn't handle, whether that was the rotating cast of random sales and boarder horses I rode at the time, or the exercises she had me do. 

Every lesson was an exhilarating rush of learning which I would recap in excruciating detail both on this blog, which pre-dates my relationship with her by about a year, and when calling my mom on the 45 minute drive home.

On our way to a second place finish in Starter at Penny Oaks. We lost out on 1st by 0.2 of a point to a horse my trainer had trained and sold, Marvin.

When Connor's breeder called me in October of 2011 to make an insanely good offer on Connor, I wouldn't have - couldn't have - taken her up on it if it wasn't for my trainer. Not only because I knew I wasn't ready for a green horse on my own, but also because she made it financially possible for me to own him, by letting me work off board by doing Sunday stalls back when I was making just slightly more in county government IT than the janitors did  (not even a little bit exaggerated!)

Baby Connor in a borrowed cooler after my first ride on him at my old barn, November 2011

I'm sure my trainer would have preferred I got something a little less...quirky...especially after we spent my entire first lesson after I brought him home trying to catch him and ultimately needing to pin him against the barn with stock panels in order to catch him that day.

Meeting the barn parents for the first time, after Lisa had made me the offer but before I officially owned him in October 2011

But we persevered, through a lot. She coached me through so many firsts. 

Our first event, which was also our first time jumping a full show jumping course:

Our first Beginner Novice, which was also our first proper 3 day:

"These fences are HUGE!" - Connor probably

Our first rated win:

Finishing on our Dressage score of 28.0 to win BN at the Kentucky Horse Park was so sweet

I can say with all kinds of certainty that without her, I wouldn't be where I am today. She re-taught me how to ride, but she also taught me how to go XC, how to show, how to fit a vest, how to walk a course, how to warm up, how to blanket, and a whole host of other things. I wouldn't be the horsewoman or rider I am today without her.

I know they say you shouldn't mix friendship and business, but over the years we have, which is not surprising since we're the same age and obviously have common interests. I'm excited to transition to this next phase of our relationship, which is that of "just friends" instead of trainer/student, and I can't wait to see what kinds of horse adventures we get to go on together in the future, as friends this time.

Thank you for everything <3


  1. What a beautiful tribute. I love it when horses bring us together with people who end up being friends.

  2. What a great coach/trainer/friend you have. How lucky to have found her and been able to work and learn from her for 10 years. And now on to 10 more years of friendship!

  3. Bittersweet I'm sure! But it sounds like you'll be keeping in touch, so that's wonderful!

  4. Aww that is so bittersweet but I'm glad she will remain in your life as a friend :)

  5. Sounds like exciting changes are in the works for the both of you. So cool when you find people in any category of life that transition into long term friendships.

  6. A beautiful post. My favorite clients have blurred the line between business and friendship. If I left this business behind, I would be so honored if even one of them would write something this nice about me. I got all misty-eyed reading this <3

  7. Lovely tribute to a lovely trainer and person! I’m floored by what a huge loss this is to the local training community but I know how important it is to be brave enough to make big changes and sometimes take a different direction. Wishing only bright things ahead for you both!!

  8. So bittersweet but I'm happy too both of you that you have exciting life changes coming up.