Throwback Thursday


This picture was taken in 1997 at Maury County Park in Columbia, Tennessee. I’m on my Quarter Horse mare Sadie and it appears we’ve just won third place in some kind of hunter class at a local Bridle & Saddle Club show.

I know it’s 1997 because you can see I’m proudly wearing my USPC pin on my jacket. I joined Pony Club that year and began the equestrian sport that’s remained my true love ever since: eventing.

Prior to joining Pony Club, I’d been taking riding lessons for 6 or 7 years. My instructor when this photo was taken was a wonderful woman who taught me how to jump, helped me find Sadie, and lent me her own pony for my very first horse show. She was a hunter trainer, so I entered hunter classes- equitation, under saddle, over fences. I loved riding and liked competing.

My mother found Pony Club in the late summer of 1997. The DC of the club invited us to come watch the club’s annual fall horse trial, which was a big deal in those days. It was a two-day affair that regularly drew 100+ riders from beginner novice up to preliminary. My family went to watch cross country on Saturday. I distinctly remember standing in view of a bank set on a downhill line to a jump called The Cannons (named for the way you were launched over it). The Cannons were the second to last jump on course; upon landing, riders galloped downhill to a coop and crossed the finish flags.

I watched horse after horse thunder down the bank, fly over The Cannons, jump the coop, and whoop with joy as they galloped to the finish line. I was immediately entranced with the sport. It looked like the best time someone could possibly have on a horse.

I’ve never forgotten that horse trial, and I hope I never will.

What about you- was there some pivotal moment that led you to your current discipline?

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

7 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday”

  1. Nice!

    As a kid, I had ridden through pony club and 4-H, I dabbled in many disciplines (jumping, english equitation, western pleasure, dressage, trail, reining, gymkhana, even some polo and cattle sorting) but had never focused on any in particular. I thought of myself as just a rider, not a _____ rider. Then, in university, I started taking lessons at my barn with an instructor Val. Val did both dressage and hunter/jumper herself. I was taking lessons in my old all-purpose saddle and we never classified what exactly she was to teach me, they were just riding lessons. One day, after a few months of lessons, Val was getting me to slow the tempo of the trot and add impulsion with my seat. As I did a 20m circle in collected sitting trot, I felt for the first time what it felt like to have a horse truly on the aids. At that moment, I realized that what I was doing was dressage, and that dressage is what I wanted to do. In hindsight, I had been heading down that path for years, I just didn’t know it until that moment.
    (Aside: I find it interesting how many dressage riders talk about struggling with the sitting trot, because I didn’t figure out what dressage was until I had achieved a decent sitting trot)

  2. Love this background story! You are adorable in that photo! I didn’t really have a moment that brought me to hunterland. My little friend when I was a kid had a pony and she kept it at the barn where I would eventually start lessons. It was a hunter barn, and I stayed there throughout my junior years, until college.

  3. Funnily enough I took Dressage lessons for 2 years before I started jumping, when it was time to move to a new instructor I was going to go to an eventing barn. I was pumped. My mom decided against it and I took H/J lessons because the sticks fall down. I really just wanted to jump so it didn’t matter much to me and now as an adult I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. What a cool memory!! I never had any real definitive watershed moments when I chose a path with horses – just knew I wanted to ride.

  5. Oh what a precious story and photo! Dino is the one who decided we were going to event, but I have lots of memories of watching the big Grand Prix on TV as a kid – Spruce Meadows, Hampton Classic, all those big shows – and starting to cry because I wanted to do that so badly. It was enchanting.

  6. What a great memory! I don’t have any moment like that. My parents put me in lesson. It just happened to be h/j. I’m currently making at least a semi switch to dressage mostly because I think I’ll like it and little because of jumping nerves.

  7. Its actually interesting because I never liked dressage growing up. But last night I did remember being a preteen and watching a pony club show where they did dressage. But this older girl I admired did a freestyle to the instrumental version of “Low” by Flo Rida and I knew at some point in my life I had to show dressage just do to a freestyle

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