Josie learning that creek crossings aren’t really that scary.
Photo taken in June 2021
Throughout my childhood, horses were a theme. When I was two, I had a plastic horse on wheels that I was inseparable from. From a young age, I wanted to be a rider!
I was fortunate to have a mother who supported my interest in horses and started me in lessons at 8 years old. The unfortunate piece of the equation was she was a single mother, working multiple jobs just trying to make basic ends meet. However, she squeaked out $15 every Saturday so that I could give horses a try and get through this phase.
I learned to ride at a small farm in northeastern Maryland,. The woman who owned this farm took me under her wing and helped cultivate my deep love for horses. It was here that I learned the hard work and dedication it takes to become a horsewoman.
As the cost of living rose, so did the cost of my lessons. It reached a point where we were unable to afford weekly lessons. To help offset the cost, I began helping out on the farm. I learned to muck stalls, clean tack, de-cobweb stall fronts, whatever needed to be done. And I loved every minute of it!
In return for my hard work, I was able to learn how to drive their Percherons. I accompanied my instructor to local county fairs and competed in Youth Cart classes. Early mornings and late evenings were a part of the deal, but a whole day of horses??? Count me in!
A highlight for me was to watch the large hitch classes, with 6 horses in hand thundering by under the lights, the chrome on their harnesses sparkling. At the end of the night were the pulling classes. If you have never seen a team of Belgians tremble in anticipation of the weight they are about to move, I highly suggest finding your closest county fair and attending an event.
For a season, I showed my instructor’s top mare in Youth Cart. We cleaned up in just about every show. At the end of the season, I was told that my next show horse was the newly acquired Amish plow horse. I would have to work with her to build our partnership on the ground and driving. While I don’t remember the work I put in with her, I do remember the pride I felt when we went into the ring and this horse, named Kathy, did every thing I asked of her. We may not have placed well or at all, but that was a life lesson I am grateful for.