My Dad always referred to my first pony ride, at about the age of 3, as “…the most expensive dime I ever spent!” Yep I caught the horse bug at an early age. By 7, I was riding the van up to the barn and taking lessons from Steve Haight and Todd Minikus at the Horse Forum in Lake Forest, IL. I’d pay my “dues” every week, dutifully dragging myself through required piano and ballet lessons…to earn that Saturday morning riding lesson. After about 5 years, my parents acquiesced and let me quit the ballet and piano, and while out to dinner on New Year’s Eve told me that we could buy me a horse! I don’t think I slept the entire month of January, I was so excited!
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, horses were my passion and my obsession. When I was with them, I felt like I actually BELONGED. Throughout middle and high school, I was given amazing opportunities, training with Rush and Carl Weeden of Brookwood Farm, and traveling around the country, competing in the hunter/jumpers with my own horse and a catch ride or two. I was able to clinic with George Morris, Chris Kappler, and always had my eyes glued to every good rider I got the chance to watch. I was Rush and Carl's working student one summer - both the best and most exhausting summer I'd ever had! But at the end of high school, college was the next step. Although I helped manage the barn over a few college summers while they were traveling, I (regretfully) didn't remain involved in the horses beyond college. I don't think I realized how much I would miss the horses, the challenge, and the overall intensity of it all.
After college at Colgate University in central New York, I spent some time working various jobs in Colorado and Wyoming, as a secretary and a substitute director of a therapeutic riding program. I ended up at school at CSU in Fort Collins, getting my Masters in Occupational Therapy, and spent 10 years as an OT. I worked in both pediatrics and geriatrics, helping both kids and adults re-learn life skills after they experienced physical or cognitive challenges due to an injury or accident. But as healthcare became less about helping people and more about the bottom line, I knew I needed a change. I knew that somehow I needed to get back to the horses.
I searched the Internet, and my heart…and by God’s grace was led to Jim Masterson’s work. And I knew I had found a way to connect with horses, and myself, again. Certification was several years of hard work, juggling our two kids and life, but I am so thankful to have had the support of my amazing husband throughout the journey. I also chose to get expand my knowledge base and have become certified in Equine Therapeutic Massage Therapist from the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Accupressure and Massage, ensuring that I am in compliance with my interpretation of the Colorado Veterinary Practice Act as it is currently written.
What an opportunity I have now! I help amazing animals feel better, and teach people about the subtleties of how our horses talk to us about their tension and discomfort. I have wonderful colleagues, and the horses teach me something new – about themselves and me - each and every time I have the privilege of working on them. I am so blessed to be on this journey and so grateful to have the chance to help the animals that have meant so much to me throughout my life.
don't ask on the mane...that's what happens when you borrow a polo pony for an event...