My father worked with a man named Dmitri while I was a child. When I was young, Dmitri met and married a woman named Tawn. My dad was best man at their wedding. Tawn remembers me and my family when I was a little squirt, and when I turned 8 years old, my parents and Tawn teamed up and let me taste horses in my first riding lesson. I loved it, and for 3 years after, I begged for more...
I started my riding career at age 11.
During the summer of 2005, I was the first of the "new crop" to be involved in the working student program at Willow South Riding School, initially through their summer camps. I learned all the basics, and I rode almost every day for 4 weeks. By the end of this, I could walk, trot, canter, and pop over little 18" verticals.
I went on vacation with my family after that for the rest of the summer, and when school started back up (I was in the 6th grade), I started riding again. 3 days a week, I was at the barn. One of those days I rode and helped with chores. Another I just rode, and the third was my complete "working student" day. The program was a dream come true for both my parents and me. I had always dreamed of horses, and finally I could help earn my own way.
For 3 1/2 years, I developed skills as a rider and a horsewoman under the incredible direction of Tawn Edwards. These years helped me grow immense amounts and they were definitely helpful in keeping my mind away from the drama created by middle school girls.
I started competing in eventing (unrecognized) in July of 2006 on Manorovan Master Adanac - a New Forest Pony owned by Tawn who was being used in her schooling program. He was a brilliant pony and taught me many useful skills. After him, I rode Wild Bear- an incredibly talented Mustang. He was my favorite, by far, and taught me how to really ride- both dressage and jumping and he was a dream cross-country. I did other schooling shows on many other horses in the program and learned an immense amount from every single one- the young and the old, from the hottest to the horses you had to kick as hard as you could to even walk.
In summer of 2008, I went with Tawn and a bunch of other teenage riders from Willow South to an eventing camp on a farm in NY owned by Tawn's mom, Julie. Everyday was filled with horses. Chores morning and evening, and riding twice a day. The outings to the river, Lake Champlain beach, the Lake Placid Horse Show, and around town were tons of fun and the summer was one full of incredible memories and laughter and real joy. Willow Hill is an incredible place.
Soon after coming home, money became tight. High School started. Matt (my older brother) left for college. Life was turned over and I had to stop riding. (Thus began an 11 month hiatus from riding... i will deem this my "rebel" period.)
I will eternally be grateful to Tawn Edwards for starting me with a foundation in true horsemanship, sportsmanship, and sharing her love of horses. And for introducing me to Candee Niss (that's mostly relevant later...)