Anyone who knows me knows how long I have struggled with the decision to go pro or keep horses as my favorite hobby. As a junior (and to this day) I rode with Chris Wynne of Breckenridge Manor in Virginia Beach, VA and was fortunate enough to be able to show constantly, including WEF, indoors, Devon, Blowing Rock, etc. as well as every show in Virginia. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept horses and loved every minute of it! My horses lived at home until my Senior year of high school so while I loved the riding, I also loved helping out in the barn and learning about the day-to-day management. We had everything in our barn from our show horses and ponies (who were showing consistently on the "AA" circuit to the level of attending indoors and Devon every year), to a Grand Prix dressage horse, to trail horses, to pets and older horses. This range allowed me to learn about the different needs of different horses doing different jobs.
I continued into college both on the circuit and on an IHSA team. When I first went to college I thought I would want a break from the horses to focus on school and being a college kid, but I only lasted until the end of August when I decided that that would never be me and I wanted to get back into it and go to indoors in October. Throughout my years in college I really enjoyed the IHSA teams, both a East Carolina University coached by Laura Norment and at James Madison University coached by Jason and Alisa Berry. When my horse was injured after indoor, I was lucky enough to continue showing on Katie Meagher's Keep The Faith and went on to buy another horse I named Falcon. At JMU I was lucky enough to show a few of their horses including Prime Time, Lord Lux, Resilient, and Dominus and work for Jason at the shows. I also used to meet Chris and Jenna Wynne at shows to help and just hang out and worked for them during the summers I had at home. I learned so much about preparing different types of horses to be the best they can be at their jobs.
When it came time for me to graduate college I truly had no idea what I wanted to do. Part of me wanted to give it a shot in the horse world, but the other part of me (the part that tried to get me to take a break when I went to college) wanted me to try having a normal job. Of course, my resume was chalked full of horse experience and had zero applicable experience for a normal job. In the weeks before graduation I was faced with making a real decision when Alisa Berry offered me the opportunity to take over the IHSA team based out of their barn, as she had just found out she was pregnant and was getting her Amateur status back. I was so beyond flattered but at the time, the voice in the back of my head trying to get me to get a normal job was louder than the one trying to get me to try the horse world. In hindsight, what an incredible opportunity that would have been!
So I moved back to Virginia Beach, got a job in Development at my alma mater Norfolk Academy and got an amateur horse in February of 2016. We had some terrible luck and did six shows before he foundered in July. I was lucky enough to be able to ride and show a close friend's horse named Buttonwood while I waited for my horse to make his comeback. VERY long story short, he physically came back from it but never did mentally so we had to make the tough decision to donate him at the end of 2017. So, I was horseless.
While my horse was coming back, I quit my normal job because I just had to get back to horses. I started working in the barn where my horses lived, just picking stalls and caring for the horses. At the time I was still unsure about making the professional plunge so I couldn't ride the horses when offered to maintain my amateur status but there were several extremely generous people down the street at Chris Wynne's Breckenridge that would let me ride their horses when life and work got in their way.
My mom and I had always talked about getting another farm after we sold ours in 2012, and had kept an eye out for a long time. We were visiting a listing when we noticed the farm next door and decided to reach out to the owner. At the time she said she was not interested in selling but that we were welcome to come tour the barn because we were considering building at the time. Of course, we fell in love on that day in July. We kept in touch and kept it fresh in her mind that we wanted it. Ultimately, she decided to sell it!
So then I was faced with the same decision again, go get a normal job or give it a shot in the horse world. This time I went with my gut and decided to give it a try. Of course I hadn't shown in a couple years now so the plan was to just get a couple young horses and ease back into it. So January 1, we moved into the farm. At the time the old owner still had two dressage horses of her own and one boarder so they boarded with us for several months.
My cousin decided to take a chance and come ride with me in February so we leased her a pony and I started teaching lessons officially on my own! I had taught lessons and gotten kids ready to show for Chris but always under his direction so it was a little scary to step out on my own! A couple months later, my cousin's best friend decided to take a chance as well and moved over in April. We leased her a horse to do the short stirrup on and started lessons and shows! Katie and Kalli Meagher also board their horse Becoming at the barn when they are home from their busy show schedule! So much fun to have our close friends around!
I imported my first horse at the end of March, which my mom promptly bought from me! She knew she wanted a horse but was waiting to fall in love with one that I import, so that didn't take long! I imported my second one at the end of April and have worked with him the last couple months. He had a set back when he pulled his shoe, stepped on his clip, and was sore for exactly 4 weeks to the day! But now we are back full force and I am so proud of how he has come along! I have another one arriving in a couple weeks and I am so excited to meet him I am just in the beginning stages but I truly feel like I am right where I belong and am really looking forward to the future, both for my horses and my students.