April 27, 2010
How it all got started...
That October for my birthday she took me out to her barn to ride. We were just a couple of lower-middle class kids, from the wrong side of the river, and as such her family didn't own any tack other than bridles. Yes, the first time I really rode a horse was bare back. We didn't take it easy either. I can still remember my elation, as I asked my pony for a canter and flew up a big green hill. Nothing I had ever done in my 11-years even compared to the feeling. The adrenaline rush was amazing, the wind blowing past my hair on my non-helmeted head was refreshing and when we rode into the woods down a trail and jumped some downed logs I was in heaven. Unfortunately for my parents, six relentless years of asking for a pony would ensue. Six years of being told no. I knew why I couldn't have a horse and I accepted it for the time being, the relentless begging being mostly in my head. After that first ride, I probably rode a couple times a year, always on a random friend's horse or on a vacation trail ride. By no means did I ever have formal training, I just had natural skill, balance, and apparently no fear. I was just plain lucky.
I graduated high school at age 17, and won a scholarship to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Although I did apply based on my desire to be a medical doctor (at the time), I was aware that there was a riding program at the school. It was not my influencing decision to attend MHC, but horses were definitely the icing on the cake. That fall I enrolled in riding to satisfy my PE requirement, and by the spring semester I was on the IHSA equestrian team. I was also wining my classes. I spent my summers in training with my coach, CJ Law, at Forest Acres in Maine. I taught camp kids to ride, and in turn got to ride twice a day one of which was a lesson. I advanced my skills quickly and developed a love of teaching at the same time. At the end of my Sophomore year, I even won the IHSA nationals in the walk-trot division (although I was schooling 2-6' fences by that point). After my win, which also happened to be the first time my parent's saw me ride, I recall my Mom mentioning to my Dad that perhaps they should have gotten me a pony! I continued winning and moving up in the IHSA ranks. By the time I graduated, I was showing in the IHSA novice flat and over fences division, placing 6th over fences my senior year at Nationals, and locally I was showing 3'3" - 3'6" over fences, and schooling up to 4'-6". Following graduation, I decided to follow my passion and tried to forget about my fancy degree. I worked for a while teaching lessons and training at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club and then did a brief stint for a trainer back in Massachusetts before moving on to manage the Greenwich Polo Club for many years.
Many years later, my day job no longer involves horses but I continue spending my spare time pursuing my love of riding, advancing my skills, and endeavoring to become the best rider I can be. A quest that I will no doubt spend the rest of my life trying to achieve!
Posted by Renee D