It all began with a little girl with 'Horses in her Heart'...
Suzi & Kris - The Wizard of Oz play. Suzi was a 'horse of a different color" and she Did change colors
Originally from northeastern Maryland, I was around 3 years old when I first discovered horses... Most kids, when they are taken to a county fair, like seeing the little ducklings, chicks or goats.
Not This kid- I wanted to see the horses. My mother told me that I'd wander off towards horses before I could hardly talk.
And so began a life- long adoration of equines...
Ever since I was 12, I've been showing horses that I owned...
I began training horses professionally when I was 18. I owned a nice Thoroughbred horse at that time, and was asked if I'd like to work with another horse.
"Sure- why not", I thought. And so it began.....
That was the beginning of my training or "fixing" troubled horses. That first horse liked to go up on his hind legs, and strike at whomever was in his way. Soon, that was stopped, and he began learning fast. He was such a sweet horse, but had been mishandled, and abused by idiotic owners that should have stuck to their poodles. I showed him at local shows in Maryland, where I grew up. The horse did alright but wasn't going to remain sound, thanks to some leg damage from his past. So luckily for him, he was 'retired' to being a babysitter for yearlings.
Since then, the "far away horses" (thanks for that wonderful quote , Buck Brannaman) are what were sent to me to "fix". ( as it was called back then) There were some really fierce horses who had learned to fight back, and some who'd been beaten down so far, they'd just given up. I trained some normal horses and they seemed SO easy to deal with compared to "my" horses.
Since I was 18, I have been fortunate enough to take riding lessons from some great instructors- some " name brand" ones as well as other just as good but without that big name to sell. The one I remember most was Hal Murch. He was working as a top trainer at an Arabian Horse farm in Michigan at the same time I was a lowly groom. He taught me more about horses in the short time he worked there than I think Any instructor ever has. He was my favorite trainer because he trained without fear, confusion, abuse or hysteria...
Not to mention never any drugged horses!
Never having to be 'taught' by other people how to deal with horses and how to 'read' them,
I wanted to learn the finer points of RIDING- the rest, I knew, and almost 50 years of training and competing horses successfully in my life has proven that.
Hunters/open jumpers were my first love - I think every youngster goes through that. Jumping is like flying! From there I moved to a particular breed: the Appaloosa. I showed to National level in pleasure classes and equitation classes for 18 years. Did some games, but generally had a wonderful time with that super fun breed. Then the breed association began allowing solid colored Apps in the show ring, and I was in the midst of a divorce so I chose to stop breeding, or campaigning them.
I still rode, took lessons, and competed at local shows. Some AQHA horses, lots of off-the-track Thoroughbreds who got re-trained for hunters or eventing.... and a few ponies too. I was Way to tall to ride many of them, so I'd get them started and moved them on to smaller riders. I took dressage lessons and jumping lessons as well.
I have owned / managed my own horse farms since 1973, right up to the
present. During those times, I also have shown some superb horses owned by clients, as well as my own, have worked at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland among others, and managed breeding/ training farms in Delaware & Maryland. I have successfully taken college classes dealing with the equine such as lameness, anatomy & physiology, and more. A certification in equine science, years of experience in 'hearing' and understanding the equine language have allowed me to train horses easily.
In 1989, I discovered driving, and the Percheron horse. This huge breed is stupendous to work with. I took driving lessons over a long winter, bought an ex-Amish Percheron mare and quickly discovered that I had all the incorrect items to compete successfully at draft horse shows. I sold a few light / saddle horses to afford a proper harness & cart. From then on, I was hooked. We bought a few more nice mares and trained / campaigned them to many winning blue ribbons & championships. The nice thing about owning well-bred mares is that while they are being shown,
they can be creating well-bred Foals !
After a few years in 'hitch' classes, I began competing at Pleasure Shows along with the light horse breeds. It was odd to see a BIG white Percheron mare in among so many short brown or bay horses. We won many reserve and grand championships there.
We began a very successful carriage business.... offering a gorgeous formal carriage for private affairs such as weddings, and the like, from 1992--- 2005. When it got so the liability insurance was high enough that it ate into the profits, we dropped that part of the business.
In 2002, a wonderful man entered my life. He & I bought a run-down farm in Pennsylvania and I began packing up my horse farm in Maryland for a big move 'north'. We got married on this farm and kept working at bringing this place back to life... I showed my Percheron mares some up here, took in some driving clients with drafters as well as light horses with 'people problems', and helped them get learn more about their horses. Driving was fun to teach and it still is today.
Yes, some were those "far away" horses- just in a MUCH bigger body !
In 2005, we started preparing for the
2006 World Percheron Congress show.
This giant breed show occurs every other year, with only the best of the best competing.
That year it was offering a class that
I felt confident in entering but....
Well, We Won.
( see Lynda's page)
In those 7 long days away from home and my beloved horses, my mare & I became World Champions.
Still, it's hard to believe.
Here we are now, and I have chosen to slow down
some in teaching / training.
I still will take on a horse that I see as worth my time and revel in seeing it turn around from a headstrong or troubled horse to an easy going, well-trained horse that is fun to live with. The same with students.... only those I Choose to teach.
I have stories published in the 'Chicken Soup for the Horse Lovers Soul' books, and 'Angel Horses' as well as many articles.... I still enjoy writing.
My husband is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and was 'pure city' when we met. Glenn enjoys being a part of a community band now, after years of professionally drumming and works dealing with cars as well. He's made me laugh over the years with noticing things about the country that I had been used to.
Like how DARK it is at night......
He supports me in my passion, as I do his, we have become a very good 'team' when it comes to showing the horses. Even though it has been tough bringing this farm back to life
and trying to find a way to fit in here in PA,
I wouldn't trade it for anything !