And, the Rider…

December 9, 2010

People should also probably know a little bit about me and mostly my riding ‘career’.

My name is Jordan and I am twenty years old. I am a college student that is majoring in Veterinarian Technology. I have one horse, three cats, and two gerbils. I have a part time job and when I’m not there, the barn, or school– I’m doing this sort of stuff.

My first riding lesson was in the fall of 1998. I was eight years old. My best friend, Chelsea, really wanted to take lessons and she suckered me into trying it with her. We went to this barn near where I lived in Alpharetta, GA that did group lessons. They were like “try-outs” where you took 2-3 lessons and then decided if you wanted to continue to ride. I rode an appaloosa gelding but I decided I did not want to ride there anymore. I quit taking lessons but I begged my parents to find me another barn to start riding at.

I was in luck because my neighbor’s daughter, Alyssa, was taking riding lessons at a barn about 10 minutes from our house. I started going there and began to take lessons. The barn was Friday Farm and it is still owned by Barbara Goda. They are a Morgan barn that has mainly those and a few Saddlebreds– although they didn’t have nearly as many then as they do now.

Originally, at 8 years old, I began showing leadline. Down South, leadline was walk/trot, where up here it is just walking. After a few shows, I was able to make my upgrade to the walk/trot division in Academy; which is where I stayed for a good few years. I had no problem with it because I was a very timid rider and cantering scared the shit out of me. Plus, I was young and all my friends I competed against/with were walk/trot-ers too.

I had some good horse show experiences down there. The shows were a lot more fun than the ones I attend up here. We got to travel to a lot more shows– I had many that we had to get hotel rooms for. My favorite fairgrounds were in Conyers, GA. The fairgrounds were beautiful and we got to steal golf carts and drive around all day. We would jump on horses and ride them around the fairgrounds for fun on our spare time. Kind of like mini-trail rides. Dixie Cup was my favorite yearly event and I never wanted to miss it.

I showed a lot of horses down there. I started off in lead-line on various horses. My first horse show, riding by myself, was on Pat (Alyssa’s horse). I remember just holding on for dear life while he sped around the arena. My first Dixie Cup was on Jack, who took off on me in BOTH classes and galloped figure eights until my trainer caught him. I got disqualified both times. I showed a horse named Sweetie a bunch too. I had one opportunity to show a horse named Pistol at one of our shows, but she bolted, I fell off, and she took off into the road. They had to shut down the road to catch her.

My main squeezes were Setter “Uptown Jet Setter” (a horse that went to Morgan Nationals) — in the picture on right– and Radiant, a beautiful chestnut American Saddlebred mare. I showed them a lot during my last few years in Georgia. They were really great horses. Setter is still alive but I believe retired and Radiant passed away. Rest in Peace. She was great.

Then, I moved. It took a while for us to find a barn but we eventually settled with Richlon Farms, owned by the world-renowned Lavery’s, at the time. I took lessons with their instructor, Vicki Spoonster. She was an amazing woman and taught me as much as she could before she passed (RIP) from breast cancer. At that barn, I showed a little bit but we did not show often. There were a few horses that I mainly rode: Buddy, a morgan gelding. Chucky, a Saddlebred gelding (RIP today). and Fancy, a Saddlebred mare that I absolutely detested. I mainly rode Chucky, which is surprising because he spooked at absolutely everything. Literally, a single piece of straw on the ground would send him on edge… and I liked it when I rode him– but when I got Fred later on, it terrified me!

After she passed, I changed trainers again. I also for a while took western riding lessons but gave that up when that trainer moved. When I changed trainers, I mainly rode two pretty old school horses that knew their jobs. That’s why when I got Fred, I was in trouble. I wasn’t used to horses that needed some confidence building.

Now, I ride at New Beginning Stables. I mainly ride my own horse–but have ridden others.

When Fred went “crazy”, my trainer was kind enough to offer me a catch ride. I was able to show her rescue mare, Miss Gem, at some local shows. Miss Gem taught me a lot, God bless her. She got me used to riding a hotter horse. She is a-typical Saddlebred. I could barely mount her. She’d get so wound up that we would have to mount her in her stall–there was no mounting her in the arena because she’d just rear and hop around. She was very interesting to ride and taught me a lot. I showed her in Adult Equitation, Open English Ladies, and 3-gaited Park Pleasure. Oh yes. At one of our shows, she fell in one of our classes (we both stayed put and made it through the class) but she ended up getting brain fried and had to restart training. So, I quit riding her.

Then, this summer, I got to show our new rescue mare, Hope. We are not sure what she is but we think some kind of Arab cross. She came from AC4H and she is a great girl. At the time, Fred was lame and her new owners wanted someone to take her to some shows to see how ‘sane’ she was. They couldn’t be sure, of course. So, I volunteered and showed my first huntseat class on her. We only showed at a local 4h show and I only rode walk/trot, but it was just to see how she behaved. She needed some bitting work (was really feisty with the bit) but was very well behaved. I enjoyed riding her and kind of wish I would have been able to more!

So, as a rider… I’ve been riding for twelve years. I consider myself intermediate. In fact, I don’t think anybody should consider themselves advanced unless they are a professional. No matter what, you always have a lot to learn. I do not think I am to that intermediate-advanced level yet. I do a lot of research and have been around enough to have a decent amount of horse knowledge but I am no genius. My riding skills aren’t exactly up to par either. I have learned that some trainers, as well as my timidness when it comes to riding, has kept me behind a bit. For instance, until about two months ago, I did not know how to do a proper leg yield. I knew to use my leg but did not know anything about bending reins. I never learned how to engage a horse’s hind end or how to get a horse in frame until about 8 months ago. In fact, I didn’t really know what a half-halt was until I changed barns. I kind of did, but barely. So, that has caused issues. I also have to re-learn a lot of things. I have gotten some bad habits from my riding past that I have had to work like hell to overcome. You can tell a huge difference even now. When I came to my new barn, if my horse would even bat an eye at something, I would literally launch myself on his neck (hence, why he’d take off). It was an awful habit I’ve had since I was a beginner rider. Now, I have learned to ride through it. I’ve gotten a ton better. My only issue is remembering those things when I go to shows. At shows, my nervousness gets the best of me, and I shut down. I don’t function. If Fred spooks once, I just forget how to ride. I just sit there and the whole thing becomes a mess. So, my goal for riding this winter is: to ride no stirrups/bareback as much as possible. I want to gain strength and balance that I clearly don’t have and I want to learn to ride through the hairy bullshit, even if it’s at shows. I think that will help my confidence quite a bit. Any other recommendations are welcome.

Riding footage from when I was young and in GA.

* The song was deleted. So, play your own music to it or listen to the song it was supposed to play- “Magic” by B.O.B.


2 Responses to “And, the Rider…”

  1. Kerri Says:

    Just FYI, Vicki died of colon cancer, not breast cancer.

    Cute blog!


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