I took the first riding lesson of my life at MQH back in the late 1990s when I was 47 years old. The professional and caring instruction I received at MQH encouraged me to ride for life, so that within a year I purchased my first American Quarter Horse with their help.
EXPERIENCE WITH HORSES BEFORE COMING TO MQH
I can remember riding a pony at the Wilson County fair when I was a child. Growing up, I was familiar with farm horses and other livestock. I also enjoyed watching horse shows at the State Fair in Raleigh.
LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH RIDING
Not long after I acquired my first horse, DeeDee and boarded her at MQH to continue with my riding lessons, I was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer. Needless to say, this event in my life brought me a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety along with all the physical impacts of the required aggressive medical treatments that I received at UNC Hospitals. I can say with all my heart that having my horse helped my recovery because she gave me an emotional focus that was transcendent beyond my cancer. And after my surgery, the daily activities of riding DeeDee, and later on Brandy, provided me with a better form of physical therapy than any other type of exercise I can think of. And even today in the present moment, riding my current horse Sweet Chip gives me a sense of self-confidence that is invaluable. Plus, I have a deep sense of trust with my horse that is deeply pleasing emotionally.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES
I love the smell of horses, the horse’s strength, the feel of a horse’s movement and how a horse will show trust in response to how you interact with the horse.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE WITH HORSES AND SHOWING
In my first show, earning a blue ribbon on DeeDee gave me pride in my accomplishment. And, with the help of my various horses (DeeDee, Brandy, and Sweet Chip) and all the great training at MQH, I have learned that winning is the simple act of riding well on any day. That means even earning a pink ribbon is a life accomplishment. Most of all, the feeling of companionship with the horse and fellow riders I hang out with at horse shows (and at the barn) makes for a lot of fun.
I also was fortunate to have an opportunity to loan my horse to the Special Olympics one year, and being at the Jim Hunt Equestrian center to observe how much riding meant to the special kids. I have also had special moments at the barn watching children come out to learn how to ride. The joy is infectious. My personal best riding experience is when I know I am “in the zone” with my horse. We are both relaxed and we respond together – and that is when I know the true meaning of finding simpatico with a magnificent creature, the American Quarter Horse.
FAVORITE ASPECTS OF MQH
I know my horse is well taken care of, and that I receive top-notch professional training both for riding and understanding my horse.
I want to keep riding as long as I can because I know the whole process enhances my mental and physical health. Perhaps I’ll keep riding until I’m 90 years old or older – watch out Queen Elizabeth!