Before having kids, horses were my life. Not only were they my passion, but for many years, they were also how I made a living. I worked in barns, taught riding lessons, directed camps, and cared for the horses at our local fair. I rode other people’s horses, cleaned a ton of stalls (nobody can clean a stall like I can!) and even horse-sat.
Then we had kids, and the horses kind of faded away. It’s not as sad as it sounds, even though I *swore* it would never happen to me. At that point of my life, I was so wrapped up in babies and my job-at-the-time that I just didn’t have the bandwidth. I took it to heart when other moms, who had lived through it to tell the tale, promised me that horses would always be there.
And you know what? They were totally right. Horses didn’t go extinct in the eight-year hiatus I took from riding. In fact, my own horse, who has been sitting in a pasture with our donkeys, is alive and well, just waiting for me to return.
But you know what DID happen?
I lost my horsey mojo.
I used to be brave, confident, and capable. People used to tell me I was a pretty rider. Horses responded to me!
Today? I’m a HOT MESS, y’all. My balance is off, my core is a big floppy disaster, I’m a total chicken, and I can basically only ride horses that are kind, patient, and oh-so forgiving.
But it’s cool! I STILL LOVE IT.
I decide that 2017 was going to be my year to get back into horses. My own horse, who’s been sitting dormant and growing exponentially wider these last years, just got a check-up and had his teeth done (did you know horses need to have their teeth floated, or trimmed, every year?).
I. Am. Ready.
Except for the part where both the horse and I haven’t worked together in eight years.
I decided I’d take some lessons first.
My preferred style of riding these days is dressage. It’s what I was doing when I left off, it’s what my horse likes, and it’s what I like. So when I had the chance to take a complimentary lesson at Black Star Sport Horses so I could share it you you guys here, I jumped at the opportunity. Like, literally jumped up and down and did a happy dance because HORSES.
Located in Rockwall, Texas, Black Star is a huge facility that houses world-class horses and trainers. I took my lesson on Tjitte (sounds like Chitta), a Friesian horse who was imported from the Netherlands. With multiple national championships under his belt, he is fancy, y’all.
Black Star’s trainer, Jessica Blackmon, has owned him for most of his life and was kind enough to let me ride him. Actually, this is the first thing I loved about my experience – she knew that I hadn’t ridden in a long time, and she knew exactly the type of horse I would need to ride to feel confident and secure. I just happened to be lucky enough that he was also stunning.
My lesson lasted about 30 minutes, during which I got to walk, trot, and canter. The riding arena, which is the largest privately-owned indoor arena in Texas, had a giant mirror on one side. This was so helpful. I could hear Jessica telling me to sit back and straighten the line from my elbow to the bit, but I couldn’t feel that I was doing those things incorrectly. Being able to see myself in the mirror helped me understand what I was actually doing (when it comes to horses, how you’re riding and how you think you’re riding aren’t always the same thing!).
Jessica was so patient with me (bless her). Tjitte was, too. It was so nice to ride a well-schooled horse, even if I am not at a point in my riding where I can tap into his full ability.
Oh, and Tjitte does tricks, too, which makes him even more awesome.
Owned by Lisa and Jackie Blackmon, Black Star offers riding lessons to riders beginner though very advanced. They also offer training and board for horses on their 250+ acre facility in Rockwall (which is just east of Dallas). The facility is beautifully-maintained and hosts events thoughout the year, including horse shows that are open to the public. And like any good barn, they have a fair share of non-equine critters running around and keeping everyone company…like this pretty parrot (I think she liked having her picture taken)!
The facility has been used to film a recent horse movie. We caught the star taking a nap (it’s hard being famous).
When you haven’t ridden in years, even 30 minutes on a well-trained horse can be taxing. I felt like jell-o as I slid from Tjitte’s back. But it felt so, so good.
I was sore for days after I rode, but I embraced it. Every ache and pain was a reminder that I had been riding. A reminder that the real me, the me who loves horses and can’t imagine a life without them, is still there.
I am most myself when I’m around horses. Does that even make sense? I leave the barn feeling centered, optimistic, and at peace. I wish everyone could have something like that in their lives, because it’s a game-changer.
Also – this is my PSA for the day. Find something you love, and do it. Just make it happen.