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Ride Like a Girl

Ride Like a Girl : Avery Jacob on the Courage to Love

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It takes an incredible amount of courage to rescue a horse you’ve never met before from a feedlot back at home while you’re on vacation in another state. But that’s exactly what I did.

Why did I spontaneously choose to invest money into a mare I’d never met or heard of before that day? I don’t know. But after a year of thinking about it now, I believe it’s because I saw some potential in the photos of this bright eyed young mare.

Almost two weeks after the purchase, we finally arrived home and drove hours in the middle of winter over multiple snowy mountain passes to meet this beautiful grey mare and haul her home. She didn’t have a name, was not broke, and had barely any previous experience hauling. It took an hour and lots of treats to catch her, and she didn’t start to really trust me for a few weeks. In spite of that, as soon as I met her I knew we would click–even if it took some time. I was determined to work with her to the best of my ability to get miles underneath her, some rides on her back, and some experience in the show arena–even if it meant I would have to hit the dirt. I was ready to be tough, patient, caring, strong, and determined, no matter what happened. It’s incredible to me to see what just a little love can do to a horse.

It takes grit, determination, confidence, and integrity to ride like a girl, and I ride like a girl because I go out there and I show, I train, I fall, and I prove that I can get back on, despite what happens. None of this would be possible without that little voice in my head constantly saying “You can do this.”  I am determined to get it done, do it well, and improve in every way I can.

I ride like a girl.

 

-Avery Jacob

Avery Jacob is a high school athlete and upper-level United States Pony Clubber from Carnation, WA. Avery is the 2017 Washington High School Equestrian Teams State Silver Medalist for Hunt Seat Eq Over Fences, 2017 Grand Champion Overall High-Point rider for the Lake Washington Saddle Club, 2016 Equestrians Institute Dressage Junior High Score with a 77.031%, and is currently working towards earning her Bronze Medal in Dressage. With three wonderful mares to guide and help her along the way, Avery is an exceptional horsewoman with plans to study veterinary science in the near future.

Ride Like a Girl: Kara Posch on Being In Tune with Your Horse

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To me, to ride like a girl means riding with passion and a drive to be the best you can be. More importantly, it means being in tune with your animal. It is really interesting if you take a look around and see all the individual relationships in the equine world. Some people just want have fun, some want to win, and some just want to be confident in what they’re doing. I am personally very competitive, and there is nothing more amazing for me than winning a rodeo with my horses.

What makes it amazing is all the time in the saddle I spent figuring them out. It takes a lot of training for a horse to get to a professional level in barrel racing. Lots of time riding. Hauling to small jackpots, then to larger ones, then–if they’re fast enough–open rodeo. From there, if they’re good enough they go to the pro rodeos. It takes countless hours of figuring out what works best for that horse and you. What ground conditions they do best on, what tack they perform best with, what exercise routine is the best for them. You have to be completely in sync with each other. I love to win and I love to compete. In order to win you have to know your horse and know what he’s going to do in different setups and different situations. One-tenth of a second is the difference between first and last place.  

To get to the top you have to put in a lot of work, and putting in a lot of work and time with the same horse makes you learn a lot about them. I know a lot of weird things about my horse and it’s because I spend a lot of time with him. He has to scope the pasture in the morning and make sure everything is in place before he eats. He will only pee on shavings so he always has access to shavings. He absolutely hates dogs. He is happiest in the back stall of the trailer. And he doesn’t like people in general. If you walk past his stall he will bite–but he’s not like that with me. He gives me 100% of his heart and soul. He is a one-person horse and he needs to always know that he is number one. He needs that constant attention. He’s very emotional. That’s how he thrives and feels really confident.  

I would do anything for that horse. The best parts happen behind the scenes where no one sees. I take naps with him in the pasture to spend time with him. I lay in his stall at night talking to him simply because he loves when I do it. He stands over me like his foal and always wants his ears rubbed. It is incredibly emotional because of all the love I have for my horses. He is my everything.  My horse is my life.

Ride Like a Girl: Audree Taylor on Wholeness

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Riding makes me feel free and confident. When I’m out with my horse there are no bullies, the curl in my hair doesn’t matter and neither does the style of my clothes. No one can make fun of me or make me feel small. When I ride I get to bond with a huge animal that will always love and protect me.

If someone told me I rode like a girl, I would smile because that’s exactly how I want to ride. Beautiful. Graceful. Determined. Better. That’s what comes to mind.

Riding makes me feel whole.

 

– Audree Taylor, 11 years old, Skinner Performance Horses

Ride Like a Girl: The Ones to Watch Out For

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Riding like a girl doesn’t mean riding poorly. Being told to ride like a girl means to ride smart, aggressive and gritty, all while looking professional doing it. Because not many people can make running a 1100 pound animal around three tight turns look easy, and the ones that are the best at it, and the ones that I look up to the most, are girls.

Riding like a girl means that you’re capable of rising above the pressure you face to accomplish a goal, win a race, or even set a record. Doing anything it takes to win, and to stay on top? That’s riding like a girl.  Because not everyone is willing to put the time, effort, restless nights and long days, it takes to rising above all the others and becoming one of the best. Those who do are the ones to watch out for. Those are the ones that find a way to accomplish their goals no matter what, and no matter how long it takes.

Because riding like a girl isn’t being inferior, it’s doing everything in your power to be the best.

 

-Katherine Quast

Ride Like a Girl: Finding Your Inner Alpha

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I love horses, don’t you? I mean I REALLY love horses. I love them so much, I have ten of them! Feeding them is the first thing I do in the morning. Checking on them is the last thing I do at night, “just to make sure . . .”

This is a surprise to everyone in my life because I was 53 when I got talked into going for a trail ride and found a passion I didn’t know I had. However, because I found a passion didn’t mean I found knowledge or understanding. I was afraid to go into their “cages,” as I called them. I didn’t know what to feed them or how to clean up after them. I jumped every time they moved too fast. (Well, sometimes I still do that.) I needed to learn how horses “worked”.

Have you ever watched an alpha walk through the herd to food? They walk in a straight line, moving all the other horses out of their way. If the horses in their path don’t move, first they look at them, then they push with their nose, then they pin their ears and if that isn’t enough, the horse in their path gets bit or kicked. Why am I talking about this? I’m a therapist, and most of the young girls/women that come to see me are like the horses that get pushed out of the way. They are sweet, kind, gentle women or young women, that haven’t found their inner “alpha”. Natural horsemanship helped me find my inner alpha–one I didn’t know I didn’t have until I tried to do ground work with a 1,400 pound paint quarter horse. He is my herd’s alpha. Learning to be his alpha and at the same time preserving the relationship and be fair, not abusive or wimpy, not timid or angry, either, was (and continues to be) an amazing journey.

As I continued to spend time just sitting on the fence, observing the horses, I saw how the alpha mare lifted her leg at the mini, but didn’t follow through. Not so much with all the big horses that got in her path. And I thought, “Horses have changed my life so much, how can I help them do that for others?” I found a form of Equine Therapy that fit for me. I became a natural horsemanship instructor. And I found a way to help girls and women who were “too nice” in their life to tap into their inner alpha appropriately. In my experience, people are born timid or aggressive. Appropriate assertiveness is something that has to be learned. Bringing our life up or bringing it down to match the situation is learned through a remarkable process of developing self-discipline and inner confidence. Horses are wonderful partners in helping us learn this skill.

Tristan’s mom came to me saying that her daughter’s first word was “horse”. Tristan’s passion only grew stronger over time, until her parents couldn’t bear to hear one more prayer asking for a horse. That’s when they came looking for me. They couldn’t afford a horse, but they could afford lessons. Tristan was so sweet. She wanted her horse to be her friend. She knew how to feed carrots, but she didn’t know how to keep a horse from getting pushy and mugging her for treats. That turned into her first lesson. As Tristan and I continued to work together, our relationship became strong enough that I could talk to her about her “timidity/inner wimp.” She was a good sport. She didn’t get offended. She learned. Last week I watched her get respect on the ground with her horse and ride a friend’s horse through a little “bucking” episode with a look of fixed determination on her face. I was so proud of her, I cried. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Recently she said, “Jo, I’m feeling timid bridling this horse.” I was proud of her, again. She knew she was timid, she asked for help, and she hung in there with me until she could do the task with confidence. Another time, I watched her get off a horse during the middle of a group class. One of the girls laughed at her for getting off. She blew it off. She had come to respect her own inner voice that said that horse was fixin’ to get out of control, and she cared more about what she thought than what the other girl did. I was proud again. Yesterday, 12-year-old Tristan taught her two little sisters and her mom how to keep a horse out of their space, appropriately matching the horse’s energy to stay the alpha. I’m still smiling. Session after session, I watch the horses help the young girls that come in my barn’s doors find their inner alpha. The girls keep their gentle hearts and their respect for the horse and the partnership while they find their respect for themselves and their girl power as well.

I LOVE horses, don’t you?

-Jolene Green, LCSW, PARELLI Instructor, EAGALA certified