Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My Comments on Your Comments

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: 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.


Anonymous said...

I like reading your blog. I fully understand the lady who has to give riding lessons. I wish sometimes other riders would help me. I can't afford lessons. I hate showing becuase when I do I have to go against other girls whos dads can buy them anything they want. I got my horse at an auction. Outside of the show ring I can do so many things with her. She backs up on voice command, comes when called and likes to go explore snowbanks. This summer I grew out of my saddle so I have to ride bareback. I like it though. I made myself a pad with stirrups and I can get so much more out of my horse now. Good luck with yours!
PS I don't have to deal with the winds you do but I do have a problem with ice. My horse can't skate so I can go riding!

Anonymous said...

I feel for the person who has to give lessons too. Everyone else in my barn owns/leases a horse year round. I don't. They are so lucky to be that privaleged but sometimes are lacking in their horse entusiasm. I, on the other hand, am always up for anything at the barn.

Cindy Hale said...

Thanks for sharing your comments! You've both given me some more to think about on the topic. I guess I'll have to write about it soon!

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise with the person who gives lessons for extra horse money. I too must earn extra money for my horse habit (training, breed shows), so I house sit! I have a couple of clients that keep me pretty busy. I stay at their home, feed, clean stalls, turn out horses, blanet, unblanket, and any extras. It doesn't violate any show rules regarding amateur status and I can do it around my full time job. Horse sitters are very hard to find, so if you are capabable and dependable it is a great way to earn the extra money!