It all started with Chicken McNuggets and a very lucky conversation almost 13 years ago.
That’s right, McDonalds is partially responsible for getting me into this sport. The summer when I was 6, on the way home from dance class I believe, we stopped at McDonalds for lunch. While I was munching away on my nuggets, my mom started a conversation with a lady sitting near us. Long story short, because I don’t want to write an essay, she name dropped Sheryl Feller and Bluebear after my mom mentioned that I loved horses. Numbers were exchanged and we both went on our separate ways. Later on that summer, my mom phone Sheryl and a day was set up for us to come out and meet some horses. Another long story short, I was introduced to Bluebear Farms, and Otis. My mom and I started out just trail riding every once in a while, then it was decided I needed some lessons as I was very confident but had zero skill. Dangerous combo. Jaimie Feller was my first teacher, on Otis of course, in a western saddle. I remember always trying to run him over. Oh, and when he asked me to drop my stirrups? I only dropped the side he could see. Or I would drop them both but grab the horn. When he asked me to let go of the horn? I took my stirrups back. I was such a good student.
Oh, and Jaimie, do you remember that time on a trail ride when you bet me a dollar to jump the caution tape in between two trees? Did I ever get that dollar?
I continued with western for a while, and then got interested in english after I saw another student jumping. Sheryl started me with that, and the first time I wanted to canter, of course I fell off. This was my first of MANY falls, and I remember Jaimie saying to me “It takes at least 7 falls to be a good rider, you’ve got one down”. I’ve stopped counting, but I think I’ve surpassed “good”.
After that I went back to the safety of a saddle with a horn. By this point my mom and I had moved to Carman and bought a small acreage with a barn and pasture. Otis was purchased from Bluebear, and my beloved boy was moved to a new home. We continued taking lessons through 4H, which Sheryl came up and taught and I also went there and rode other horses. After a few years in 4H I was ready to try english again, in a big way. I started taking lessons on Buster, and I never looked back.
This must have been when I was about 10.
I rode Buster in lessons, and then moved onto others such as Scottie (who has taught many a rider what leg means), Ronnie, Kazoo, Maddie the pony, Hunter, Kodak (once, and she jumped me off), and then finally my own horses. Monty was the first one I jumped.. successfully anyway. I tried with my mom’s stubborn QH gelding, Washington. From Monty we went to Flash, and from Flash we took a giant leap to Willard. Fast forward and I now am not only taking lessons at Bluebear, but I’m a boarder there as well. Will spent a year at home, where we learned about his fear of cattle, and then we moved him into Bluebear, where he stayed for 4 years until we moved him back home tonight.
So, Bluebear, and all the people involved, thank you for the past 13 years and starting my career in this sport. I’ve learned many lessons. Including, but not limited to:
- Not all horses can or like to jump, but trying to make them do this task makes you a better rider.
- It takes time and patience to make braids look decent. In my case, many years of patience.
- Learning how to fall correctly is an necessity.
- Fly spray fly spray fly spray.
- Rubber boots don’t pass for english boots.
- When you hit the dirt, you dust yourself off and get back on.
- Horses are relatively uncomplicated, people are a different story.
- Eliminate your tracks (shaving prints down the alleyway).
- Know which lights are the arena lights, before you turn them off.
- Always latch gates.
- You can learn something from every coach.
- Horses keep us humble.
- Wear gloves. Especially when it’s -30.