It’s a family affair

My dad and I are extremely close and we spend A LOT of time together because we get along so well. Sometimes it can be a little scary, but we both have amazing taste in horses and we are both very good riders. Now I ride English; specifically hunters and equitation, and my dad was a cowboy… not the ranch hand cowboy out on the range, but a world champion.

Dad and Dry in the calm before the storm.

Dad and Dry in the calm before the storm.

Before my time, around the mid 80’s, I guess my dad had a midlife crisis and bought a cutting horse and 18 months later he had an entire facility in Stephenville, Texas for his new passion. He rode with some of the best in the business and had one of the best horses in the world, Dry N  Freckles.

This past week I have been watching the National Finals Rodeo from Las Vegas and it is culture shock to me. Bull riding, saddle broncs, and team roping are things I have never seen, but my dad is all to familiar with the rodeo/cowboy scene. He tells stories of friends who can stick their fingers in the roof of their mouth and wiggle their eyes back and forth from a bad bull ride, shenanigans with Reba McEntire before she got “Hollyweird”, and late night’s in Fort Worth, Texas at M.L. Leddy’s and a saloon named Filthy McNasty’s.

My dad, commonly known as “Jefaaafaaa” around the barn, has made bets with me that he can ride better and he would never loose a round, but he refuses to prove it, or take a lesson, so I guess I win by default.

Every cowboy needs a mustache and big belt buckle.

Every cowboy needs a mustache and big belt buckle (my dad is on the left).

I’ve done some pretty jaw dropping things to impress a crowd, but my dad rode his horse through a  motel lobby and in to the elevator, went up the elevator, then he went to his room to drop off his bags… but his crazy days are over (according to him) and he is now seen at horse shows and polo matches parked in a golf cart under a tree.  Granted, I am just as talented as he is and I’d like to think that I am a little more refined, but everyone know where I get my arrogant tendencies.

We are both addicted to showing horses and we both love the high of winning big events, but I don’t think his era is over. I see that look in his eye when he sees a nice horse and wonder if I will ever see the cowboy side of my dad.

Winning runs in the genes of the horse and rider. Rudy (in this picture) is related to Dry (in the photos above).

Winning runs in the genes of the horse and rider. Rudy (in this picture) is unintentionally related  to Dry (in the photos above).


My old Kentucky home

Lexington, Kentucky is home of UK basketball, hot browns, bourbon, and some of the most famous Thoroughbred farms in the world.

Fayette County’s roads are lined with black board fence and stone walls, and around Valentine’s day the future Kentucky Derby winner is probably taking his first steps. Man’O War, Citation, War Admiral, Whirlaway, and Zenyatta all famous horses born and raised in the Bluegrass. I’ve been going to Lexington since I was knee high to a grasshopper and even now I am still mesmerized by wonderful area.

The Horse Park, University of Kentucky, Midway, Ashland and Keeneland are my usual destinations. But the real treasure is on the corner Russel Cave and Ironworks Pike, The Jot’em Down. It is a hole in the wall with a screen door that will reach out and touch you, but the biggest names in the Thoroughbred business can be seen watching UK basketball and talking up their young blood over an Ale81 and bologna sandwich. It is my kind of place.

The area surrounding New Circle Road is essentially an overpriced daycare for expensive lawn ornaments to the untrained eye, but I see opportunity, tradition, and history.  The farms that lay nestled in the rolling hills have been around for generations and are worth millions. Horses aren’t just a hobby in Kentucky, they are an industry that I am beyond eager to get into.

These boots are made for riding

I’m not going to lie, but I am really hard on a pair of shoes. I go through at least two pairs of boots every show season, but I will NOT give up on my lucky $35 custom boots… yes, $35 dollar custom boots.

My boots have earned a special place in my room and my heart.

Tall boots run about $1,100 dollars for me. I like my Der-Dau’s with the gator skin and silver monogram tag. But  in 8th grade I didn’t spend that much on boots… more like $200 Ariat’s.

It was July and I was helping an older lady with her horse when I busted the zipper in my boots. She let me wear old custom boots and they were perfect. I won every class that day, so instead of getting paid $35 to help this lady she gave me her boots. That was in 2009 and yes, I am still the same size.

Later that year, in a flat class, I was asked out on my first date in the boots and I had my first kiss in the boots. They are lucky. I have worn my boots in airports across the country, to Tiffany & Co in downtown Cincinnati, and to many riding banquets. They are well traveled. I was wearing my boots when I had my first car accident and when I met Bruce Springsteen.

If they don’t completely fall apart I guarantee I will wear them on my wedding day and I will probably get engaged in my boots (I will be sure to let my future fiance know about this plan) … it seems like fate is in their favor.

Varsity Equestrian

In high school you don’t picture riding as a varsity sport, but I am the one and only varsity equestrian at MHS.  I don’t get a banner in the gym or a page in the year book, even though I have been in the top six in the state all through high school and junior high, but colleges love the fact that I am committed to riding. A few weeks ago I got a letter from the University of Kentucky and I was really excited, but their riding team isn’t part of the SEC.

Annie, my old horse, and I in an equitation class.

People have always told me I was born to ride horses… I don’t know it just comes naturally to me and I love it. I want to push myself  to be a NCAA champion, no big deal. I have the horse, the training, and the drive to do it. And I’m not going to lie, but I bleed blue. UK is my favorite college and I love Lexington with all of my heart, but I want to be a part of the SEC! Lexington is surrounded by some of the best farms in the country and it is horse capital of the world, so it should be able to support a varsity equestrian program.

Granted I was a little concerned in the beginning about other people riding my horse (after all I am an only child and I don’t share well), but I read on the UK equestrian team’s page that you can ride and show your own horse! And I plan on spending four years in the Gluck Equine Research Center to major in equine Science and Management, but I want to make sure my horse has a nice home and she is well cared for.

I am planning an official college visit in early November, but I am not only looking at the college for me, but also for my horse, even if the team is club and not part of the SEC. I really want to go to UK and I hope that in the next few years their top notch equestrian team can join the SEC. I am confident that my horse and I will be a perfect addition to the team and life will be good in the bluegrass. Plus, I know my horse looks really good in UK blue, so Lexington, here we come!


Murphy out in the pasture on his 21st birthday. (5/13/2012)

Growing up as an only child I have always had a pet, but never any siblings (except for like 8 months when my dad was married to my third step mother and I had three older sisters that were all in college, so it doesn’t really count). So, for Christmas in 2000 I received Murphy, a 14.2 hand Halflinger pony. Now Murphy isn’t your average sweet, loving pony. No he is my evil older brother. All 1800 pounds of fat, blonde hair, and attitude were out to make me miserable. It was going to be a love/hate relationship…

I’ve grown up around horses and you could say I knew my way around the barn and a horse. The first day I went to ride Murphy he decided to run away and break his new bridle and two fingers on my right hand. I was five years old and demeaned that “Santa” takes his present back.

As time went on Murphy and I started to get along. I knew his quarks and he knew how to make me angry, but I decided to put on my big girl panties on and get over it. Lessons were filled with blood, sweat, and tears… lots of tears, but we always tried to end on a good note. We horse showed and typically he and I did pretty well. We won our first champion ribbon at our second show! I was super happy!

2008, My dad decided it would be a good idea to marry my trainer……… This was not good for me, but I thought he liked her, so I pretended to like her. This is when Murphy and I really bonded. He hated Shannon, my new step mom, with a burning passion! God bless him! Murphy and I were having a bad day, typical. He was hot and tired and so was I. And Shannon was yelling and jumping up and down because Murphy wasn’t listening and she decided to got on to show how good she was at riding. (Now Shannon is not built like a rider. She is 5 foot and to say she is bottom heavy is being nice). She got on Murphy and all I remember thinking was “Murphy, teach her a lesson!”, Well he did the exact same thing he was doing to me and the next thing I know Shannon was on the ground. 🙂

Her ankle was fractured and she needed surgery and would be off from riding for 6 months. SWEET! The barn was mine and I could go somewhere without being with Shannon!!!!!!!

Life was good… then my dad hired a new trainer in 2010. She was not so nice and hated Murphy… So of course my baby got sent to University of Findlay. I was heart-broken. Findlay is a pretty weird ghost town and it is in the middle of no where. Murphy was a bit of a handful, so he was sent to Miami University! And Miami is a pretty cool place. Every chance I got I was headed up to Miami to go see my pony… we even skyped … ya I know it was pathetic, but I got to see him at shows and a student even sent me daily Murphy updates.

Summer before last Murphy came home and we see each other almost everyday! Now when I walk into the barn Murphy whinny’s when he sees me and runs along side my car when I pull down the driveway if he is in the pasture. I guess the thing we hated the most brought us together. Forever Murphy will be my pony and forever I will be his person.

When your horse follows you without being asked, when he rubs his head on yours, and when you look at him and feel a tingle down your spine…you know you are loved.

                                                                                      – John Lyons