I have been riding since I was small. I don't know the first time I rode, but there are pictures of me on a pony as a toddler. My parents weren't competitive or professional riders in any sense of the word, but they kept a horse or two for pleasure riding.
I have a hard time believing that my mom actually rode horses, because the last time I had her on a horse was almost 20 years ago and I ended up ponying her for the majority of the trail ride in Flagstaff, AZ mountains. That’s a story for another time, and I’m sure she will thank me for bringing that up to the general public.
I suppose I get my love of riding from my dad. I can still get him to ride with me when he visits. I can remember trail riding with him as a kid on my pony. I learned some good lessons as a farm kid with horses. Don’t stand in front of a pony and pull on the reins to get her to cross a creek. It hurts when they jump on you. Don’t ride your horse through the barn gate, even if it saves time. Rusty bolts leave scars. And kids who are busy with horses tend not to get in the same amount of trouble as those with none.
I think I got side tracked. That’s likely to happen when I start talking horses. The point is, I’ve been trail horse riding since childhood, and even though I’ve competed at every level of competition out there, I’ve never stopped trail riding. It’s good for my soul and that of my horse.
In the last few years I discovered Competitive Trail Riding through the American Competitive Trail Horse Association, and it’s brought the two worlds together for me. With my time and money quite a bit sparser than earlier days (thank you my dear children) this has been a fantastic outlet for me. It still gives me a goal, without the same pressures of the competition world. Between ACTHA rides, I set up obstacles and practice. When we moved the horses 2 months ago from the old place, what obstacles I had were pretty old and had to be torn apart and tossed. You know what that means? New obstacles!
Last week, I roped my brother into helping me build a new bridge. Not a high bridge. Not a big bridge. I wanted a narrow bridge. It’s harder to convince a horse to cross something they see no need to. I had to cross one only about 18″ wide a few years ago and it gave me a new appreciation for it.
So after only about 30 minutes of work and with the help of a toddler, we have a new bridge on the new property to practice for our competitive trail rides! I’ve already had Ruby test it, and we worked to come to an agreement about the necessity of standing on it. Yay! Now I just need to decide which trail is the right one for this obstacle …
Send comments and questions to Stephanie at [email protected]