I’ve been a horsewoman for my whole life. I’ve trained horses, taught lessons, boarded horses, braided horses for shows, clipped horses for the winter, given vaccines, bandaged wounds, welcomed new members into the herd, and cried my eyes out when it was time to say goodbye to one of our faithful equine partners. So many times over the last
few several decades, I’ve thought, “This is what I was put on Earth to do.”
When we bought our 42-acre, 42-stall farm in CT – the one with the collapsed indoor arena (which is what put it in our price range), and stalls in the back barn black with creosote, little light, and stall floors about 10″ below the level of the aisle, I was sure we’d be there forever. I always said just bury me in the muck heap – then I could continue to improve the farm after I was gone. We fixed fence, fixed stalls, installed lighting, and generally made the place a workable farm. We replaced the collapsed indoor with an 80′ x 200′ steel frame building that had been a warehouse. My husband bought it from the demolition company, dismantled it piece by piece, my brother delivered it to our farm with his trailer truck, and we hired a crane to erect the frame. With a new indoor, skylights in the back barn, stalls level floors, and rubber mats, we soon filled the 42 stalls with lesson horses, horses in training, and boarders. I was doing a lot of teaching, showing, (and mucking), and I couldn’t imagine being happier. But after a dozen or so years, the relentless winters and darkening economic climate made us reconsider our “we’ll be here till we die” feelings, and we sold the farm and headed to Virginia.
In Virginia, I had a lesson program, did summer camps, and volunteered at area dressage shows. We had leased a small barn and I was happy there – until a disgruntled parent (who wanted to buy our best lesson horse) began calling animal control saying our horses weren’t being cared for. Although the State Vet suggested I sue her for slander, I needed a break, so I closed up shop and the horses came to live at home.
A couple of years later, we were managing a large private barn. We rode on trails throughout the 2500+ acre property, led guests on trail rides, and generally immersed ourselves into the care of the horses and the property. Often working 7 days a week and 10 – 12 hour days, I thought we’d be there forever. We weren’t. All 3 of us were let go when we complained to the absentee owner when one of the grounds people physically assaulted my husband. Took me a while to get over that one, but I came to see it as somewhere where I wasn’t really growing as a person, or a horsewoman, so I became OK with it receding in the rear-view mirror.
In the middle of all of this, I started writing for a local horse magazine, then another regional horse magazine, then I wrote articles for the USDF Connection, the Chronicle of the Horse, and Dressage Today. I sold some of my photos to Warmbloods Today, and I was beginning to see there were ways to be involved with horses without necessarily being outdoors when it’s 37 degrees and sleeting.
My next job came with the absolute certainty that this was what I was put on this Earth to do. I became a Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Teaching Therapeutic riding was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I was given the opportunity to have a huge impact on the lives of my students and their families. It was an honor and responsibility that I never took lightly. I ultimately left that job because I suffered a sudden onset heart issue and badly injured my knee within the span of 4 days. Trying to teach while on crutches and suffering standing blackouts multiple times a minute was incredibly stressful, and potentially extremely dangerous. After a few days in the hospital, my doctor said I needed to focus on getting better. Walking away from my students was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I was doing some freelance teaching, which I enjoyed, and still writing. I became Volunteer Coordinator for several large Dressage shows – all of which I loved, but I knew there was still something else coming along for me. I’ve managed to become a bit more patient allowing life to unfold for me in its own time, and during the pandemic, I circled back to an idea I’d had years before of coaching horsewomen in a more mindful and spiritual way. I wasn’t teaching riding so much as teaching my students how to develop a deep bond with their horses, and confidence in themselves. I give them tools to help them manage anxiety, trust their gut, and tap into those aspects which turn us from riders to horsewomen. My efforts were focused beyond the saddle, and “Empowering Women in the Barn & Beyond” became a mission as well as a tagline.
It’s often said that hindsight is 20/20, and that was brought home to me as I reflected on my “this is what I was meant to do” areas of my life, and I realized that all of those times were what I was meant to do at that time. For as I gained wisdom and perspective from each season, it helped me become the person I needed to be for the next season and the next and the next.
As I open my mind to ways to expand my coaching business and serve more deeply, I’m being connected with people and opportunities that I never could have dreamed of a year ago. My focus is Confidence Coaching for horsewomen, and I know that whatever comes along in coaching and in life, it’s what I was put on Earth to do.