Where It All Began
The thought of going to another gymnastics class or ballet class just made me nauseated. The butterflies I felt in my stomach were not the good kind. I really did try my hardest to do well. The dreaded hours with the other girls in class and listening to the teacher talk about parallel bars and plié squats just made me cry. I was always daydreaming of doing anything else but this. I hated doing cartwheels and walking on a balance beam. Those ballet slippers and pink tights just weren’t my style and honestly the other girls just weren’t very nice to me. Day after day I begged my mother to please let me skip class. Please, please! And one day, she did.
We took a drive down an old dirt road. I had no idea where we were going. I was only 6 years old at the time. I can clearly see her face as we drove our car out into the country. She said she had a surprise for me. I begged for her to tell me what it was. But she said just wait and see. I think you are going to like this she said. She was smiling as we drove along. I miss her smile.
We pulled into a long driveway. It kind of went uphill from what I remember. She opened the windows. The warm air rushed into the car. I think I might have turned up my nose at the smell and I asked my mom what are we doing here. She said nothing but just smiled. Then I saw them. Horses. I saw a round looking barn just to the right as we pulled in. I could hear the horses neighing. Some horses were in the barn with their heads peeking out their window. Some horses were being walked by their owners. Others were getting a bath on this hot summer day. As we drove further in, I could see horses in the pastures. Horses of all sizes and colors. I felt a rush of energy as we pulled to a stop. I thought maybe we were here for a field trip. Maybe we were meeting some friends for a play date. As we got out of the car, I remember an older woman walking towards us. She probably wasn’t that old as I was only 6 remember. I saw her shaking my mother’s hand and introducing herself. I remember her name being Barbara. I was still confused as to why we were there. Then my mother told me. Are you ready for a lesson? What. A lesson? On what?
We walked into the barn with Barbara. The barn was huge with an indoor arena. The ground was soft. I thought to myself this looks like some good dirt to play in. There were stalls lined up on the side of the arena. I remember an office and tack room to the left. This place had a smell to it. A farm smell. A horse smell. Little did I know this would be the smell that will light my heart on fire for the rest of my life. As I’m looking around, there are other girls about my age riding horses. They are in the arena walking by and they smile at me. I smile back and wave. They look so small riding those big horses. We walk over to the left side of the arena and tied up to the fence is this big beautiful yellow looking horse. I would later know that this color was called Palomino. He had a english saddle on and a bridle with his halter around his bridle. I would never tie my horse like this today but I remember clearly how he was tacked up all these years later. By this time I knew what my mom meant by taking a lesson. I was going to get on that big yellow horse today. I remember being excited and not nervous at all. He was so big and beautiful. I knew nothing about horses but I had a feeling I was going to want to learn more.
His name was Seabiscuit. Barbara introduced us and gave me a leg up right into the saddle. I can almost feel his movement. His neck looked so long. I remember his walk and his trot. I remember the way his mane moved as we went around the arena. Each stride was so wonderful. We spent about an hour in the arena as I listened to Barbara coaching me and telling me what to do. I was soaking up all the information I could get. This was amazing. I was so high off the ground. Seabiscuit was so gentle. I felt so safe on him. From that day forward, horses would always be a part of me. It’s who I am. It’s who I want to be.
After that first lesson, I practically begged my mom to take me to the stables every day. I could not get enough of being around horses. I was so happy and so in my element. I had so much fun with the other girls at the barn. We all had the same love and desire. Even at a young age everyone said I had a gift. A talent with the horses. It came natural to me.
I’ll never forget my first day on a horse. It’s all because of a palomino gelding at Stillwater Training Stables in Stillwater, Oklahoma, that my passion grew. That’s where it all began. The stables was my home. Thank you to the late Barbara and Betsy Bramwell for making me the horsewoman I am today.
That first lesson sparked years of horse riding and horse showing. By the age of 9 I was competing in local 4-H shows and the Quarter Horse Circuit. Almost every weekend, my mom would pack me, my brother and the horse and we were off somewhere to a horse show. I loved every minute of it. Spending all that quality time with my mom and brother was priceless. I continued to grow over the years training with the best trainers I knew. Working and riding every day. Practicing for hours. Living my best life and trying to be the best rider I could be. We won multiple circuit championships and even placed in the top 5 at the World championship show multiple times. I look back now and it almost feels like a dream that I was fortunate enough to do all that and I am so thankful to my parents for everything they sacrificed.
My dream isn’t over. I still have a lot I want to accomplish with my new gelding. I’m grown up now but sometimes when I’m alone in my barn, just me and my horse, I still think of that yellow horse, Seabiscuit. I still think of my mom and the gift she gave me. My love for horses. Thank you mom.