1. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day? (drink, not just brand)
COFFEE. Many coffees.
2. Do you honestly think your trainer is the best trainer for you?
Right now for me and my current horse, absolutely. For all time, I had that trainer for 15 years, and my current trainer is his sister. I would still be riding with him, I’d imagine, if he were here today.
3. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day.
WHO JUMPS FIRST. (Hear that enough, and it kind of stands out over everything else.)
4. If riding meant costing your family so much money that they’d be basically on poverty line, or making your family terribly unhappy (if they were not supportive or understanding, etc.) would you still do it?
Fuck yeah I would.
5. (Girls) would you ride while pregnant?
Never going to be pregnant, but if I were I would still ride until I was too big to haul myself into the tack.
6. How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else?
I kind of just go by what people tell me. About Eli, some people say, “oh, that horse loves you,” and I’m like, okay, but not enough to stop trying to bite me, so …
7. Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion?
I believe they are.
8. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes?
Gah. This is an agonizingly difficult question to answer, because I am a forward-looking individual. There is more than one horse I would like 5 more minutes with, but at what cost to my psyche at the prospect of saying goodbye twice? Apparently, even 21 years was not enough with Anchor. I’d take 5 more minutes of his snuggles/maulings for treats in a heartbeat. And maybe some blood for DNA so I can clone him. I thought I wouldn’t want to clone him, but now I’m like, eh, that might be pretty sweet. And then I wonder, well could I handle him as a stallion? Populate my world with pink Anchor babies? And then I stop myself, because there is no way on earth to recreate my experiences with Anchor. Not everything is a result of DNA. Back to the no cloning policy.
9. Should a trainer also be a friend, or should it be a student/teacher relationship?
I have been friends with most of my trainers. I really think it depends on the individuals involved and how mature they are, and how good they are at keeping a business relationship separate from a friendship. Honestly, I would be very suspicious of a trainer who tried to befriend me right away and started acting all chummy, but I am suspicious of anyone who does that generally (like beyond just being cordial). But developing a friendship over time outside of a working relationship seems pretty normal to me.
10. One piece of advice/training you were given by a trainer or mentor that you look back on now and view it as incorrect?
Hmmmm, there is more than one thing … some of them are just old wives’ tales that have since been demonstrated to be absolutely wrong, some of them are training methods or pieces of equipment that I want no part of now but may not be all that bad. Some of them are treatments that were accepted or even recommended by veterinarians that I just wouldn’t do now. So I am trying to think of a piece of advice that is basically an opinion that I agreed with a while ago but don’t now. The best I can come up with is that years ago, I accepted the approach to horse training as a way of dominating a horse into subservience and that horses were not allowed opinions and would be reprimanded for anything out of line regardless of why. I completely disagree with this now, and I am more interested in forming a partnership with a horse, allowing a horse to think for himself, building trust, and staying calm, persistent, empathetic, and emotionless when a horse is being “difficult.” I want to know why now, instead of just assuming it doesn’t matter. It does matter.