Five Ways Adult Horsewomen Rock the Riding Gig

Life experiences give adult horsewomen an edge.

CFD Ride a Test 2016 131

1.We don’t care what other people think anymore

Gone are those awful days of following every new fad and fashion hoping that we would fit into the cool kids group. The heck with that nonsense. If others don’t like what you are doing, they don’t have to watch. You found your passion and along the way you have grown strong and sure of yourself. You have met some fabulous friends that you would have never met outside of the horse world. Never again will you waste your time trying to please people that don’t understand or care about you.

2. We have already learned the value of a budget

Yep. Learning how to use your money wisely is part of growing up. Very few of us in the horse world have an unlimited budget. Remember that day when you realized that people admired you for cleverly finding that bargain outfit from the resale shop? (They wished they had found something like that.) You looked great and still could afford to go to the show that month (or take a lesson, or clinic with someone). “Put your money where your mouth is” doesn’t mean we should go into debt pursuing what is important to us. Wear that Calvin Klein dress from Ross Dress for Less to the banquet when you pick up your award.

3. We are experts at negotiating with our body parts

Our younger selves flew unheeding into every activity that came our way. When our teachers asked us to change something about our posture or the way we reacted we were quick to say, “I just can’t do it that way”. Years of experience have taught us patience with the eye on long-term gains. We have learned that practice allows us to learn a better way to do things. We now recognize that what seems impossible to change at first, if you persist, becomes easier and easier. We no longer take our bodies taken for granted. We have learned to curate what can be done with our aging framework and have acquired a large bag of tricks that work around what truly cannot be changed about our bodies. Example: with a height of 5’3” I was never destined to be a center on the girls basketball team. Put me on a horse and I’m a force to be reckoned with.

4. We have learned that feeling stupid means you are learning

By now we know that staying in your comfort zone means never improving or growing. You have to risk something to gain something. The best lessons for improvement are the lessons where you get corrected for making mistakes or pushed when you’d rather stay in your safe zone. We know that these lessons do not feel good at the time. The lesson where the instructor verbally pats you on the head and says you’re doing fine may make you feel supported but did you learn something new? Did that lesson show you that you were capable of doing more? Did that “feel good” lesson push you up to a new skill level? Probably not. Risk and Persist is your motto now. Go for it. You’ve got this.

5. We are thrilled to be living the horse life on any level

Luminaries like Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin inspire us but most of us do not want to live their lives. We love our family, our work outside the horse world, our homes, and our children. Don’t get us wrong; we value learning important lessons from these horse idols. We apply these important lessons to our non-Olympic bound horse. These small successes are very important to us. When we feel our 12 yr. old OTTB move freely into a balanced shoulder in we are as euphoric. We won our own special Gold Medal in personal bests. These small but mighty moments with our beloved horse is why we are and will continue to be, Rocking Adult Horsewomen.

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William Steinkraus, my childhood idol stands the test of time.

I was a horse crazy, horseless pre teen growing up on the outskirts of The Main Line of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My young nose was pressed up against the window watching the horse community but I could not participate. My parents were sure that my horse obsession was “just a phase”. To be fair the household budget was stretched thin just providing my two brothers and myself all the advantages they already deemed necessary for our successful upbringing. We were groomed to be successful, literate members of society. Accordion lessons (Dad had a friend who played accordion in a pub, plus it was cheaper than buying a piano), clarinet lessons (Dad idolized Benny Goodman), chorus, drama club, swimming and diving teams (summer and winter league), soccer, football, marching band, economics club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement, all while maintaining an A or B average in school. Horses were not part of the plan.

Lucky for me the horse community was covered in local newspapers and magazines as part of the Society Pages. I would read any article with any mention of the horse community. I would moon over the black and white photograph of any horse; I daydreamed of skillfully guiding a big, powerful horse around a show jumping course in the Wanamaker Oval to thunderous applause. I distinctly remembered that the spectators were applauding not because I won the trophy but they were applauding my skill and horsemanship.

Where did I learn to value horsemanship over winning when I was not even riding yet? The examples were reported in the newspaper features and the colorful magazine inserts in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. Top riders were quoted extolling the respect and skill needed to ride horses successfully. It took a person of strong moral character and humility to be a good horseman or woman, they reminded all readers. That was a fact printed in black and white in the Inquirer. I believed it.

William Steinkraus repeatedly appeared in print both newspapers and books on riding. His riding skill and horsemanship was held up as the example of good horsemanship. Fifty-seven years later I am reading the same tributes to William Steinkraus on Facebook.

Here is a link to for a Tribute to William Steinkraus written by Mollie Sorge for “The Chronicle of the Horse” detailing his life in and out of the saddle. http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/farewell-to-william-c-steinkraus

George Morris wrote a February 2008 article for “The Chronicle of the Horse” titled “Bill Steinkraus’ Two Dozen Useful Aphorisms”. The wisdom in these “useful aphorisms” stood the test of time and was republished in The Chronicle on December 13, 2013. At the close of the article George Morris wrote “Aren’t Bill Steinkraus’ aphorisms wonderful? They are little gems, pearls of wisdom that keep you on the right track. That’s why I had to share them with you.”

Here is the link to the whole article by George Morris. http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/tbt-steinkraus-aphorisms

In my formative years I learned that a Good Horseman or Horsewoman

  • Never lost their temper
  • Always treated their horse with respect and patience
  • Never cursed or acted crudely to anyone whether they were groom or a society maven
  • Never blamed their horse for mistakes
  • Learned to lose gracefully
  • Always sincerely congratulated the winner
  • Took time to encourage the younger riders follow their example

I was not so naïve to think that the uglier side of human nature did not exist. Every day I witnessed examples of  cruelty to man and beast. I aspired to be a better human being just like my horse world heroes. I knew if I just followed their example I would become a respected horseperson also. Winning ribbons and trophies was secondary to displaying good horsemanship.

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This picture of Bill Steinkraus and Fleet Apple gliding over a huge jump makes riding well look easy. The horse looks confident and unstressed. The elastic and balanced harmony the pair displayed is ideal. Here was proof that this harmony between rider and horse was achievable by anyone with the self-discipline and the persistence to practice.

Here is a slide show of William Steinkraus riding other horses over the years.

 

I salute my childhood idol who influenced me and many others.

You stand the test of time.

BlogyoungSteinkraus     BlogolderSteinkraus

William Steinkraus October 12, 1925 – November 29, 2017

 

10 Reasons Why I Love Horses

This is the post excerpt.

  1. Horses always tell you the truth.
  2. Horses accept you as you are.
  3. Horses necks smell like good earth.
  4. Horses eyes are deep and calming.
  5. Horses top lines flow like a wave.
  6. Horses legs look like ballet dancer legs
  7. Horses winter coats feel like mink coats.
  8. Horses make me feel powerful.
  9. Horses forgive me my mistakes.
  10. Together we can accomplish miracles.

Painted in Waterlogue

The Joy of Horses

In the beginning the horse was my eye candy. I spent hours gazing at horse pictures, watching horse videos and reading books featuring horses. My horse heroes were My Friend Flicka, Trigger, Silver, and The Black Stallion. Idle hours spent lying on the ground gazing up at the sky through the maple trees and daydreaming of flying down the racetrack on the Black Stallion, riding to the rescue of someone on Trigger, weeping with relief at the end of Black Beauty, or being saved from the rattlesnake by Flicka. These rich, rewarding fantasies crowded into my girl’s lacrosse, brownie meetings or homework time. Parental comments were “You live in your own world, Carol”.

Well, yes. I was.

At 16 yrs. of age my Girl Scout Troup visited Mrs. Nussdorfer’s stable. I was enraptured. After the demo and “pony ride” was through and the other girls went to have refreshments and I stayed with the horse as her son put the demo horse away. Excitement! I got to ‘put the stirrup up’ on the saddle (after he showed me how to do it). That field trip was a turning point in parent approval of horses. I could take once a week lessons with Mrs. Nussdorfer. After the lesson I was required to sit on newspapers so I would not stink up the car with the horse smell. I had to take off my riding boots in the garage for the same reason. I limped for three days after lessons while I was totally thrilled to have this once a week treat. Even better, the school horse was an elderly school horse named “Sunny” who was a grand son of the famous Man O War!

35 years later at unexpected times while mucking out, grooming or walking through the pasture on my horse I am once again surprised by the joy of horses.