I've loved horses ever since I could remember. I begged for riding lessons for years, until my parents finally relented and got me my first riding lesson for my ninth birthday.
I was your typical horse-crazy kid, but painfully shy. As much as I loved the horses, I could only scarcely whisper any questions I had into my mother's ear once we got to the stable. Talking to new people was terrifying, but the horses didn't judge. Once I was on the horse, I felt powerful and safe. I made friends with the horses fast, and over time my curiosity overcame my fear of speaking. Asking questions meant I got to spend time at the barn and as I became more proficient with the horses, my people skills improved, too.
In high school I started helping younger students and assisting my instructor. I knew that helping others get what I got out of horses was to be my life's work.
I opened my own riding school and horse training stable in Colorado and taught kids as young as four, people with disabilities and students who competed regionally and nationally. As much fun as it was to see my students' hard work pay off in the show ring, my greatest joy comes from helping riders make a connection and find a partner in their horse. To me the truest measure of success is when you and your horse understand each other, your goals align, and you're both having fun!
Divorce brought me to California with my retired lesson horse, Stevie, in 2008. While still trying to get my feet under me, I was diagnosed with a large, inoperable brain tumor. After many action-packed years of lessons and horse shows together, neither of us was practiced at relaxing, but we were suddenly forced into learning the art of being still. He got lots of attention I was never able to give him when we were both working, and I learned to just be. Stevie passed away the same year I was declared cancer-free. Our journey together had come to an end, but not before realizing how much my old friend helped me through that frightening time.
After Stevie was gone, I was looking for a way to be around horses again, and found therapeutic riding through the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara's Wellness Program. As soon as I was able to volunteer at the local therapeutic riding center, I realized that teaching therapeutic riding was exactly what I needed to do. Partly because it's the way I can give back for the care I received when I needed it most, but fundamentally because it's exactly what people need.