I enjoy reading feedback on my blog, which is one of the reasons I decided to make a change from writing a monthly column in Horse Illustrated. The Internet affords me a certain feeling of being connected to readers that I didn't have with a print magazine. Many of you have shared funny, emotional or downright scary tales in response to some of my blog topics. Here are just a few that have stuck with me:
When I wrote about my fall off of my mare, Lexi, just before Christmas, I received some sympathetic support from others who'd endured a face plant or worse. There was the tale of the gal who was riding her brave green pony around a cross country course. The second time through the water complex, the pony lost much of its bravado, shied, and sent her face first into the water. She was drenched. Of course, she had to be wearing a white shirt and an orange bra.
Several readers told how their horses had succeeded in scraping them off thanks to low-lying tree branches. Got to watch out for those trees! And there was the case of the rider whose horse took off in a bucking frenzy, figuring it was playtime, as it galloped off toward its four-legged friends. She, too, came off in a most unglamorous fashion.
As could be expected, I've gotten lots of comments every time I rant about our weather. Honestly, it makes me feel a little guilty about wintertime in Southern California when readers tell me what they're enduring. I may have horrendous wind, but at least I'm not like a reader in Minnesota, who considers it to be "warm" when she can ride in only 3 layers of winter clothing. And when I described my dilemma of worrying about what to do with my horses while the wind was howling like a freight train, another horse owner offered that she had fantasized about building a basement specifically for her horses. You know, just for inclement weather. She shouldn't feel silly about that idea. On one particularly windy night I almost brought my horses into the garage!
But the most impassioned responses that I received were inspired by the blog I wrote about the group of young riders I teach. I explained that I often feel conflicted and discouraged about the sport of competitive riding: that to really accomplish much in the show ring costs a small fortune, and it's simply out of the reach of most families. I encouraged riders who are nonetheless determined to compete to find a level of showing that they can afford, and to be the best they and their horse can be in that arena. That sentiment struck a chord with many readers, all of whom loved their horses, enjoyed pursuing the art of horsemanship, but had to struggle to find the time and the money to compete.
On a slightly different topic, one adult rider who earns extra money giving beginner lessons to local riders described her predicament. The only way she can afford to compete is to supplement her "horse fund" with the money she earns giving these entry-level lessons. But doing that strips her of her amateur status, forcing her to compete against professionals. "I don't want to break the rules," she said in an email, "but it doesn't seem fair that my dinky lessons suddenly put me and my cheapy backyard horse in the same division as full-time professional trainers who are riding their clients' imported, six-figure horses. Maybe you should write about that in your blog."
Maybe I will someday.
In the meantime, if you'd ever like to share a comment or respond to a topic you can always click on the word "comments" below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I try to respond to every comment or email that I receive... providing the winter weather or my horses haven't driven me temporarily insane.