6 May 2020 | Author: Chelsea Rutledge
Like many horse people I have met many horses throughout my riding career that made a big impact on me emotionally and in my horsemanship. They taught me just as much as any instructor I ever had. Before I get too deep I would like to mention that my story is not special; pretty much everyone who loves horses has a similar story. We truly owe a part of our identities to these school horses and instructors that moulded us in to the riders we are today. For this reason, I believe we owe it to those who taught us to support them in these tough times.
I had my first ride when I was eight years old on an pony named Toby. He was both a saint and a demon, as ponies tend to be. He taught me how to stay on, how to get back on, and more importantly what it means to love a horse. He was also my first and worst fall. He’s long gone now, but forever in my heart as “the one who started it all.”
My next memorable horse I never actually even rode. My trainer at the time opted to take over his care in lieu of his owner euthanizing him after an injury. Sienna had gotten tangled up in a fence and absolutely destroyed his leg. I must have been no older than ten at the time and I think that injury is what developed my iron-clad stomach and sparked my life-long love of veterinary medicine. I remember coming for lessons and helping her dress his wounds before getting Toby ready. Sienna taught me that a horse is worth more than the ride they can provide. Theresa was the first trainer I ever had and I attribute my bleeding-heart horsemanship to her.
Next was Patrick, a piebald Paint that no one wanted to ride because he required legs of steel and was, quite simply, lazy. Lucky for him I was completely on board with that. I remember one girl who was always in my lesson group treating me as though I got the short straw having to ride Patrick all the time. I remember coming to the barn for my lesson and being told I had to ride a different horse because Patrick had been sold. He was the last horse I rode before I rode the next schoolie that taught me something. Or course there were others in between, but they did not make as much of an impact on me.
The same applies for my trainers. Between Theresa and my next trainer, I never really felt on the same page with any of them, including an Olympic hopeful whom I had actually followed from my previous barn to the barn that had Patrick.
The next schooling horse that I rode that made a difference I met in my early twenties. I was an adult, so I was told, and hadn’t ridden since I was 17. I had just started at Lakehead University and was going to join their equestrian team. Within 15 minutes of meeting my new trainer, Heidi, I had received some advice that has stuck with me: “You’re not doing it right if you’re not sweating.” I was grooming. That tid-bit gave me some insight as to the type of horsewoman Heidi is; the horse always comes first even if it means something mundane turning in to a huge task for the human.
The schoolie I rode that day was Kovi. She ultimately taught me to be aware of my emotions in the saddle. Truthfully I’m still not very good at keeping it together as an adult, but because of her I can usually catch myself before the anxiety takes over and I completely ruin the ride.
After a few years at Rushmount I welcomed my own horse, Hudson, in to my life. Heidi brought him to my attention and the rest is history. I still remember my heart racing when Heidi called me to let me know she was going to be pulling in to the barn shortly with him. I raced to the barn after my shift with both delight and hesitation. What if he’s too much for me? What if my husband divorces me if I spend too much time at the barn? Or more realistically, because he said I shouldn’t own a horse. The second I saw him waiting for my in his stall I knew I made the right decision.
He was two and fortunately I still kind of bounced when I hit the ground, not that we did much for the first few years. Thank goodness he was not a typical thoroughbred! Without all these horses throughout my life that taught me to be a compassionate rider and handler I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be half the rider and owner that I am today.
Please consider supporting the equines and facilities in need during these unprecedented times. If you are interested in helping Rushmount with essential needs for the school horses including vet, feed, hay, farrier, and shelter please donate via email money transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (password: Rushmount) Any assistance at all is appreciated by the schoolies and we look forward to hosting an open house for our supporters when it is safe to do so. It may not be until next year, but when we can we want to show you how much we deeply appreciate the assistance that has been offered.