Friday, March 4, 2011

Horsin' Around

Some of you may not know this about me--but I used to be a pretty avid horse person.  My father re-married a woman when I was 3 (we'll call her Barb...cause that's really her name...).  She was into horses.  Arabian Horses.  I was 3, didn't know to much about anything but remember becoming pretty interested in the horse world.

I showed my first horse when I was 6.  It was a lead-line class and I remember it vividly.  It was at the State Fair Park in Milwaukee and Barb (my "leader") and I wore similar shirts that she had made (it was white with plaid patches on it).   I know she's got a photo of that somewhere and I'm going to have to get my hands on it.

The horse was Ed. (well, his real name was Fifth Edition ++//...the "++//" are kind of designations in the Arabian Horse world).  Ed was awesome.  More than awesome.  Ed taught me so much growing up.  He was the bestest friend anyone could have.  And as I sit here and type this and I'm thinking about him, I'm crying.  I loved Ed more than anything.

I showed horses from that very summer that I was 6 until the summer before I turned 19.  Nearly every weekend in the summers we were travelling to horse shows.  Many of them were local--not so much the county fair type shows, but what were called "Class A" shows--and by local I mean Milwaukee.  A lot were also nationwide (IL, OK, IN just to name a few).  When you do good in a Class A show, you qualify for regionals.  When you do good at regionals, you qualify for nationals.  I did it all.  Every summer for 12 years I was home maybe 2-3 weeks out of the year.  I lived out of a motorhome with my dad and step-mom (and got other people involved as the years went on...).  And I loved every second of it.

Showing horses taught me work ethic.  It taught me how to win and how to lose.  It was demanding, it was hard work--but I wouldn't take it back for a second.  As I look back I now realize how lucky I truly was to experience what I did growing up.  My parents sacrificed a lot for me and I will forever be indebted to them for that.

That entire time, Ed and I were a team.  We showed nearly every type of class known in the horse world--Western, Hunt, English, Side-Saddle, Dressage.  We did it all-Ed was so versatile--he was amazing.  Barb also showed Ed in many classes and as the years went on, he was a teacher to many. 

Further into my horse "career", it was time to get my own horse--and SFA Silverado (Silver) came into the picture.  I basically had to train him from day one.  He had never had a saddle on his back or had a handler work with him.  He was a little on the "hyper" side, but I still loved him.

Before I finish my story here, I wanted to take a look back and share some photos of this so important part of my life...

This is probably the most prestigious award I received with Ed.  I was Reserve National Champion in Canada in 1993.  I can't remember exactly how many were in my class, but I'm guessing it was over 50.  It was a big deal.  I'm proud of that moment.

This was a Region 10 (WI & MN) Championship I received for a Western Equitation class--that's where they judge the rider more so than the horse.

This was taken the last year I showed..I received a Top Ten at Youth Nationals in Oklahoma City, OK (1996).  It was a Hunter Seat Equitation class (where they judge the rider, not the horse).  A Top Ten was kind of a big deal because the class started out at nearly 200.  It also involved a 2 minute memorized pattern than had to be performed in front of the judges.

Our family Christmas Card photo.  I think around 1994 ish??  That's my dad (Mark), Barb and me with Ed.

And here's Silver--sorry for the cruddy quality on this one.  This was actually a Senior picture of mine taken in 1996.  He was cute.

And here's Silver and I at a show. :)

I loved Ed and Silver.  I also loved the other horses I had the opportunity to ride and show (Axpensive Hobby (Markie), Four Onda Floor (Majik) and MDF Wizard of Oz (Oz)).

I got older and "grew out" of the horse thing.  Silver and I never bonded as much as Ed and I did, so by the time I was 19, Silver was headed to a new home to be enjoyed by others.  Ed stayed around the family farm.  We retired him from the showing world, but he still did the 4-H circuit with "renters".  I can't tell you how much love that horse got (and I'm crying again) and how much love he returned.

Ed died just a couple years ago.  I will forever be indebted to a horse for teaching me to be the person I am today.  I know that sounds corny, but it's true.  I learned SO MUCH from him, from the training, from the early mornings and late nights, from the many blue ribbons and the nights I cried myself to sleep for not placing. 

And that, my friends, is called horsin' around.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! It's nice to learn more about you and your horses were so beautiful!