One of my favorite memories is of tacking up a tractor tire in the barn with my best childhood friend, Sarah. I was probably about 7 and we were both the most horse crazy girls you could find. We were serious competitors, horses were in our blood, and we wanted every waking moment to have something to do with those crazy four legged creatures.... so, as the sun had long faded, we'd switch on the lights of my parents barn, and ride the hell out of the big ol' tractor tires.
To many people it may seem ridiculous, but to us, it seemed natural. We were in the barn, with the smell of horses, leather, dirt... it all was way more familiar then our own rooms.
We also thought it natural to jump on a couple horses in the school-horse field and gallop with the herd to the barn, no bridles... no saddles. We had falling off contests, rode the horses we shouldn't have ridden, and were just too young to care (but we were smart enough to hide it all from the adults). But... for all of us, horses were in our blood.
I thought for a long time that my grandmother was a famous horsewoman. To me she was, and that's all that mattered. She had some articles written about her, taught some clinics, and made crazy horses calm and sore horses feel better. She died when I was 8, but I still have all the pictures of her with a horse etched into my memory. The one of her and the horse both 'laughing' while wading through her pond, the one of her in the snow, the one of her with her voodoo seeds 'healing' the muscles of a poor little two year old off the track.
I remember taking a lesson from her on one summer day... it was hot and dusty in her little covered arena (it seemed HUGE back then), and at 7 years old, I had no idea what she was talking about when she told me to put the horse 'on the bit'. But I tried. I remember picking up (or maybe it was dropping off) the great Bruce Davidson at the airport and going to dinner with all of the adults when he gave a clinic in the area. I even remember her telling someone I was going to be an amazing rider someday. Of course at the time, I thought I was already an amazing rider... :)
Now I know that she wasn't famous, but she gave it her best shot. She wanted it really bad, but really didn't know what it was she was wanting.
And then there's my mom... who can outride ANYONE when it comes to the feel of a horse. Amazing to watch her work on the ground and in the saddle... frustrating too (for me!). She can connect with horses in ways that most of us will never understand, but doesn't have enough faith in herself, or in her process to take it where it needs to go. I've gotten to watch my mom go through her own stages of learning her gift - from when she had such a bad back (thanks to carrying me for 9 months!) she could only ride a gaited horse, to now winning her first attempt at endurance riding. She frustrates me because I can't always feel what she does, but she's even more frustrating because she doesn't trust what she does enough to be comfortable with it.
She's never pushed any learning on me. She'd fix my pony for me when I let him get pushy, but never force me to 'learn' what it was she was doing. I had rules growing up that in order to compete, I had to put in my time riding and helping in the barn, but if I didn't want to ride and compete, I didn't have to (that wasn't a choice in my mind).
So now here I am in my journey... I'm a bit different from many riders because although I'd like to be at the top of sport, I care way more about the partnership between horse and rider and making each horse the best IT can be, than I do about getting a bigger/better/more talented mount to take me up the levels. I want my clients to enjoy sitting on their horses each and every day. I want to help make each horse feel happy in its job, both physically and mentally.
And I want to fill the shoes of the previous two generations. I have their trials and tribulations to fall back on... and their mistakes to learn from. I want to help people help their horses (and help horses help their people!). say that 10 times fast. :)
Third time's a charm, right?