Living The Dream

I often ponder how I ended up living on a farm training horses and people for a living.  It wasn’t my plan when I was growing up, and it wasn’t my plan when I went to college and got a degree in Journalism and Public Relations.  I can’t say I knew what my plan was, but I definitely know it wasn’t to be a horse trainer!  Not because I didn’t love the horses, and the showing, and the crazy hours I was spending grooming, braiding, cleaning stalls, and soaking up every bit of knowledge I could from my trainers who I thought of as my second set of parents.  What horse crazy teen wouldn’t have loved the thought of being able to do that for a living? No, it wasn’t my plan because it didn’t seem realistic or attainable.  I assumed I’d go to college, get a job, and hopefully be able to make enough money to someday ride again as an amateur.   Yet life leads you down paths you didn’t necessarily see coming.  Although my parents sold my horse when I went off to pursue a “normal” life, I somehow migrated back to what I loved the most- the horses.  I  got myself a minimum wage job in a pet store, found a trainer who was willing to let me trade out work for board and lessons (and I mean work, not just riding lovely made horses.  Perhaps my next walk down memory lane will include how I had to teach mules to jump, or how my only form of transportation to get the the barn 30 minutes away was a 150 cc scooter with my dog in a backpack at 4am ,) started up braiding all night again at the local horse shows with coyotes circling me, and purchased a $400 Thoroughbred mare at a local kill auction.  No, she didn’t turn out to be the next Snowman- she had been dumped at the auction because she had a hard cleft palate, and everything she ate came back up through her nose.  I had to put her down.  But at that point, I was determined to continue riding, so I found another mare that I could afford because frankly, she was a complete witch that no one else wanted 😉  But I made her up, sold her for a little more than I paid for her, and found a slightly better one the next time.  And so on, and so on.  Fast forward 25 years, and I’m looking at the Christmas lights hanging on my barn, bottle feeding a baby goat, and watching my weanlings frolic in the pasture.   I still can’t say being a horse trainer is a realistic plan for most.  You have to be willing to work your tail off, forget about taking many vacations, or getting weekends off.   When kids come to me now and tell me they want to be trainers, I tell them to go to college first.  Have a backup plan.  Learn how to run a business, and learn to love riding the horses no one else wants, and teaching little kids their diagonols.    Because that’s where you have to start.   And you have to get lucky that a lot of things fall into place.  I love my life.  I really am living the dream (even when the waterers break on Christmas Eve, and I have to spend New Year’s Eve with a colicking horse, and I’m loading horses in the dark when it’s 30 degrees out to go to a show…)   I just didn’t know it was my dream!

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