Ponies: You gotta love em

There’s something special about riding a pony. I know they are just smaller horses with a bigger attitude, so a lot more sass, but for some reason every time I see that I get to ride a pony my day immediately gets so much better.


I got to ride my favorite pony Dazzle, he is this adorable little white pony he’s literally so much fun I think it’s because it makes me feel like a little kid again. You see I never really got the whole pony experience as a kid I really mostly just rode small horses even when I was younger. But now when I get to ride a pony it just makes me feel like a little kid again because it’s pony, something every kid dreams about.

There’s something about dealing with the sass of a small pony and being closer to the ground that makes riding so much more of a challenge, there’s a challenge in riding a pony. Their stride is shorter, and there is less neck in front of you to save you if you screw up going over a jump. The ponies here at Penn State have taught me so much because they won’t save me, they won’t help, they expect me to help myself, I can’t rely on them because they are relying on me. We rely on each other. But ponies take a little longer to gain your trust.

I think it’s because they don’t want to have to trust you, they want you to follow their lead, but that doesn’t work. You have to earn their trust, just like they have to earn yours. I earned Dazzle’s trust by proving to him that I deserved his trust, I had to prove to him that I knew what I was doing especially when we started to jump.

Each jump we went up to was a test. Each jump I had to show him that I was going to make the right decision I was going to find the distance for him so that we could safely make it over each jump.

I give his sides a squeeze as I round the corner of the ring Dazzle steps up into the canter, his hooves keep a steady beat with the ground, an even rhythm pulsing against the ground, moving across the ground towards the first jump, it’s a white vertical oxer with a double rail, as we approach I have to remind myself to count pony strides not horse strides so I can find the right distance to the jump.

We lift off into the air flying over the jump.

We land on the other side I help Dazzle pick his little head up and gain back his nice and easy rhythm that helps us travel across the ground to the next jump. We continue around the ring to the rest of the course each jump reminding me of the feeling of flying and reminding me why I started riding in the first place and why I fell in love with this sport.

Riding ponies reminds me why I fell in love with this sport because they male me work harder, they remind me what trust is, and they challenge me, that’s why I love riding ponies…

especially Dazzle.
















Working Together

So normally in my blogs I talk about horses, and what they’ve given me which believe me is a lot. But in all my blogs I’ve never talked about the friends it has given me.

These are the people that I know in 20 years we will still be best friends and this sentiment is reaffirmed every time I see and hang out with them. These are the people that I never miss a beat with, we can communicate without words because we know each other so well, and the ones who are most definitely going to be in wedding there is no question in my mind that they are going to be in my life forever, wherever life takes us all. So anyway now that I’ve made it clear that these are my friends for life let me tell you a little bit about them and our many adventures.

In fact little off topic but it really drives home my point but we were all talking recently and trying to remember when we became friends and I said

” I can’t remember when we all became friends because I can’t remember a time when we weren’t friends, I honestly can’t remember life without you guys as my friends.”

Now this might just mean I have a really bad memory but I prefer to think of it as a testement to our friendship it shows how much it means to all of us.

So over this spring break at my barn we were having a clinic for Rutgers, Lehigh, and Drew on Sunday so on Saturday we had to get all the horses and the ring ready. Anyway point is when I walk into the barn I realized I hadn’t told any of them that I was coming so when my friend Emma sees me she immediately runs up and hugs me and we start talking which is where it gets funny my other best friend Juliette hears us talking and peeks her head around the corner, and she just stares at me for a minute trying to process that I was actually here. Then she finally runs over to me and hugs me but she starts crying because she is so happy, while I was laughing my ass off at her ridiculous reaction. I couldn’t believe she would actually start crying over seeing me, and neither could anyone else so of course we made fun of her for the whole weekend.

But our friendship goes beyond just the normal friendship and bonds you form with people over time, you see we all work together and that in itself has given us something that I will never have with any of my other friends. We trust each other, we rely on each other and we love each other I don’t want to remember life before all my barn friends.

I’ve never had closer friends than them they make me laugh all the time, they always have my back and I’ve become a much better person because of them.

So yes horses have given me a lot but most importantly I think is that they’ve given me my best friends. 

Getting Back On…

Everything you do is work. Everything you do takes time. So how do you decide if it’s worth doing? Well I think it’s different for everyone but the best piece of advice my dad ever gave was this

“Do what you love”

I know I know how cliche and obvious, but it honestly is true if you do what you love you’ll be happy it’s as simple as that.

Now I’ve probably made it clear that I love horses and horseback riding by now, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s my passion.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and butterfly’s 24/7. There’s work, there are good days, there are bad days, there are days I wanna scream, there are days I want to jump for joy.

I’ve faced hardships and setbacks and I’ve had to overcome fears because of this sport but that’s why I love it, it makes me a better person.

This past summer I had to literally face my fears it all began one Sunday during my group lesson with my three best friends. We were doing a jumping course and I’d just gone over the last jump and was going past the bottom right corner of the ring, Darla had been fresh all lesson but I’d been handling when all of sudden as we went past the corner she starts throwing huge bucks, putting her head down and taking off, and before I can even react I’m quite literally flying through the air and I land flat on my back on the hard ground.

The wind gets knocked out of me and I lay there, not moving because I can’t breathe and I don’t know what to do, I sit up and try to breathe but I can’t it’s like my lungs won’t work, my brain won’t tell my body to breathe. My trainer comes over to me and tells me to put my head between my legs and take deep breathes when I finally regain my ability to breathe I look up and see Darla standing there waiting for me. She was staring at me expectantly her big eyes watching my every move. She walks over to me and nuzzles me as if confused as to why I was on the ground.

I take a deep breath and I slowly stand up, I lead her back over the mounting block and I get back on. I walk around and I feel my muscles still tense with fear because I really didn’t want to fall off again, I didn’t want to have to feel that fear again because this was something I loved I couldn’t fear it.

Every experience you have on a horse is different and every experience shapes you as a rider, I still get tense everytime a horse starts to buck with me because I really never want to fall off because of that again, I was sore for weeks after that. But what I do know is this no matter what happens I’m always going to get back on the horse, I’m always going to work to make sure I’m better prepared for next time something does go wrong, I’m always going to keep riding no matter what this sport throws at me because it’s my passion it’s what I do and it’s what makes me, me and I’m always going to trust the horse I’m riding because they bring so much happiness and joy to my life.


Moving on, Growing Up…

When you ride a horse even just once you feel a bond towards it. This might be because

-you work together to achieve something

-you learned something

-the horse was cute or sweet

but whatever the reason may be every equestrian will tell you that they have a bond with the horses that they ride. So although the reasons and strength of bond will always be different from each rider and your horse you can bet it’s there.

So for those of you who aren’t too familiar with the equestrian world let me explain to you how we learn and grow and as equestrians…

It all starts with that first horse, the kid tested and kid approved pony that maybe won’t move no matter what you do, but they also won’t react to anything, so you are perfectly safe with that pony and don’t have to worry about anything else but yourself and building your confidence on and off the horse.

Then eventually you’ll grow up even more and have to move on from that pony. You’ll maybe move to a horse or maybe onto another pony, either way, now comes the exciting part, you’ve mastered the poles and are comfortable cantering you are ready to start learning how to jump.

Now in case anyone was wondering jumping is my favorite thing in the whole world, it literally feels like you are flying no matter what height you are jumping whether it’s cross rails or three feet.

You start with cross rails, my first time jumping was an experience let me tell you. So I went into my lesson with my best friend Rosie and we had already walked, trotted and cantered, and gone over our poles at the trot, but then we see Pat setting up a cross rail with the poles we just went over. “She tells us don’t think about, pretend it’s the pole, stay the middle, release your hands forward over the jump and squeeze when you get about three strides out.” Rosie and I look at each other with nervous excitement. We’ve been waiting for this moment ever since we watched the older girls lesson and saw them jump. I nudge Chase into a trot and point him at the tiny jump in front of me like I did with the pole when I get close I give him an extra squeeze and he comes up to meet me in the air as he hops over the jump and I go into my two-point position which is basically where you get out of the saddle and bend slightly at the waist.  I remember I couldn’t stop smiling, when I come back down to a walk I tell Pat that “I felt like I was flying can I do it again?”

One of the most rewarding parts of horseback riding is mastering a new skill, learning and growing as an equestrian couldn’t be more rewarding because that is what you are striving for each and everytime you get on to fix just one flaw no matter how little because that is one more thing that will make you a better rider, and the different horses you get to ride and grow up with really all do teach you something a little different which is why you go in steps. Riding is a process, and you have to trust that the process will get you where you want to go and along the way they become some of your best parts of your life.



New Semester, Same Passion

Hey, guys, I’m back! So I figured I’d start off this new semester a bit different than last because you see I kind of started in the middle. I started with my time as an equestrian at PSU and this past summer but I didn’t even mention how I got there and how this passion all started! So here we go back to the beginning…

Well first let me introduce you to my best friend Rosie, we have known each other since we were 6 and since then did literally everything together.  Anyway, now you guys are all caught up and I can actually go back to the beginning.


Once upon a time…Joking, joking this isn’t a fairytale, my journey with horses began when I was 7 and I have my best friend to thank for it. You see I didn’t discover horses on my own she introduced me to them. My best friend Rosie, was always the adventurous one, the daredevil and that’s what made being her friend so fun, it was always unpredictable. So when she suggested that we start horseback riding, I of course agreed, because we did everything together, so why should this be any different.

Rosie and I went to our first lesson, and I instantly fell in love. I rode this pony named Gracie, she was sassy, sweet and I fell in love instantly. Now literally all we did that first lesson was learn how to get on properly and walk around but neither of us cared we were hooked from the moment we walked into the barn.

I have this passion for horses because of my best friend, and I have a lot to thank her for over the years but this is probably one the most important things she ever gave me, she gave me the opportunity to find my passion for horses when we were only 7 years old and I am so incredibly grateful because people spend their whole lives looking for their passion and I was able to find mine.

So that’s where it all began at Fox Ridge Farm in Newtown CT. 

My favorite memories of Fox Ridge were during the summer because of the week-long summer camp that they held every year. From the horseless horse show, trail rides, grooming all the horses, playing pony, pony horse (the horse girl version of duck, duck, goose) oh and my personal favorite the pony cart rides.

Now the pony cart rides were the best part because the adorable, fat and sweet miniature pony pulled a cart, made for 2 people took us up the long driveway and back.

I loved every minute of the time that I spent at Fox Ridge because it was a time when I was making memories with my best friends, and being around and growing my passion for horses and horseback riding each time I stepped foot in the barn and was around the horses.

My best friend gave me this passion that I now hold so dear to me and for that, I can’t thank her enough so this post was not only to kick off the semester with taking you all back to the beginning but to also show you that passions can begin because of someone else but that you choose to make it a passion for life.

#rideonstate #bestfriends #horses #equestrian


I didn’t want to get my hopes up about showing this semester because everyone always kept saying that it was rare because of

  1. how limited the entries are
  2. how big our team is

But I worked hard all semester and kept my fingers crossed for luck that I would have the opportunity to show, and all my work and hoping paid off because this past weekend I was picked to show in the flat.

I was beyond excited I couldn’t help but smile when I found out and I just couldn’t contain my excitement over the fact that I got to show! I was jumping up and down and just kept repeating to myself “I’m showing, I’m showing” to keep reminding myself that it was real and it wasn’t a dream.

We had to drive 3 and half hours to get to the show, so we left late Friday afternoon, only making one very necessary stop at Panera along the way so that we could indulge in the worlds best mac and cheese.

There’s 8 of us all sleeping in one room we are all sprawled out trying to fall asleep but as always when you put a bunch of friends in the same room someone starts laughing and that sets off a chain reaction so we all ended up getting a lot less sleep than we planned.

We were all wearing layers upon layers upon more layers because it was so cold if you took you glove off for than a minute your hand started going numb but I didn’t care I was to focus on my teammates and not only watching but cheering them on as they rode before me.

We all fed off of each other’s successes as ribbon after ribbon went to the Penn State Equestrian team and I hoped I could keep that going when I walked into the ring.

I was riding this little-thoroughbred horse named Minnie, she was perfect I couldn’t have asked for a better ride, she gave me the confidence I needed and I knew my team and coaches were right there rooting for my success and honestly, that’s all I needed.

Riding has always been an individual sport for me I’ve never had a team to ride on yeah I had my barn but it’s not the same as riding for a team and now I understand why.

We all earned our spot out there in the show ring, and we all know that .we all care about each other doing well and we are all friends and that is what made this show special because not only did I walk out of the ring with a 4th place ribbon I walked out of the ring knowing that I was there because I deserved to be there and because I earned it.

I couldn’t be happier to call all of them my teammates and best friends and it was amazing to get share the team’s success of being high point team this weekend! Nationals here we come! Ride on State! 






All For This

Beep Beep Beep. It’s 4 am and my alarm clock is blaring in my ear signaling that it’s time for me to leave my comfy bed. Now most of you are probably wondering why someone would get up at the butt crack of dawn on a Saturday, well you see the reason is simple…

It’s horse show day!!

It’s the day we work for all year, the day we prove that all of our blood, sweat and tears have been worth it, that it means something, it’s the day we get to show how hard we’ve been working, the day that shows everyone who we are at the top of our game.

While showing certainly isn’t everything, it means the world when you succeed and that’s all anyone really wants is to succeed in the show ring and out. Success is not always the ribbons you win but also how we compete, how we compose ourselves, and how we support our teammates, and treat our horses.

The show day starts, we arrive at the barn dressed in our best breeches, clean white show shirts, and polished black boots.

I walk into Darla’s stall to say hello and give her a good morning kiss and treat, she immediately comes over waiting expectantly and puts her warm nose to my chest in greeting, she knickers softly to say hello back, I give her a pat and go to get all the feed so that I can then begin getting them all cleaned up, wrapped and ready to be loaded onto the trailer.

It’s now 6 am I’ve washed 12 horses times 4 legs which makes 48 legs I’ve scrubbed and wrapped, but now we can finally begin the process of loading all of them onto the trailer. One by one we walk them up the ramp and coax them back into the stalls on the trailer, we lift and pull the hay nets looping them so that they don’t fall. When all the work is finally done our white show shirts are a bit of an off white (but that’s ok our show jackets will cover it) and we all jump down from the trailer, wave a final goodbye to our horses before we shut the door and head off to the show grounds.

Once we get to the show grounds it’s immediately go time I’m doing ten things at once putting my show coat on, tying my hair back, getting Darla’s bridle on, so that we can make it up to the ring on time. She’s all tacked up, I look her in the eye and whisper “we’ve got this” she just shoves her face into mine in response telling me to get a move on.

Darla’s hooves thudded the ground in an even beat, I sang row row row you boat to keep my mind clear and steady, all that mattered in that moment was this course and getting all the correct distances, I count down to each jump and smile each time we fly over them, the feeling never gets old going over a jump never gets any less fun and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. I guide Darla around the course, and finish with my closing circle, and it’s only then that I register the clapping around me and the smile my trainer and friends give me as I walk out of the ring while patting Darla’s neck for a job well done…

This is home because home is where the heart is and my heart is always with Darla (my horse), and my equestrian friends because of they joy they bring me everyday.


Lessons Learned

I was never one of those girls who was handed anything, I worked 6 days a week 8-5 over the summer so that I could have the opportunity to show and lease a horse. I was never handed the opportunities I received I always had to work for them. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds, it’s true, I worked for every show I got to compete in, every hack I got to ride, and every lesson I got to take, and to be honest I couldn’t be more grateful.

As a working student at Knightsbridge Farm, I was responsible for all the behind the scenes of what went on at the barn. The floors were swept to perfection, all 12 horses for the show the next day were bathed and ready to go, the trailer was packed, horses were fed, jumps were all moved, the barn was clean, all that was the working students. There was a group of us who worked every day together, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with, those girls were my best friends they taught me what it meant to work together, to delegate and what it meant to accomplish goals.

Being an equestrian is not only about riding, and that is what people need to understand. There is so much more to riding than simply getting on the horse, there is everything that goes on after you get off the horse. You spend more time taking care of your horse than actually riding them, and that is what I learned as a working student, I learned the importance of horse care, I learned how to give back to an animal that gave everything to me.

By working for everything I ever received in this sport has made me a better person it has made me more grateful for everything I have, I never take anything for granted because I know what it means to work for something.

I woke up at 3:30 am before horse shows to get to the barn by 4 so that I could lunge 6 horses by 5, wash legs and dirt stains on all 12 horses and wrap their legs to ship them to the show by 6:30 so that we can load them into the trailers and be on our way to the show by 7:30. Now on a normal day, I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn but I was up earlier than all my friends who would start their day around noon meanwhile I had already ridden 3 horses, washed 2 horses and swept all the aisles by then.

I loved every minute of my behind the scenes work as a working student because it taught me so much and made me a better person and I’m only one of hundreds of working students around the country making theses sacrifices to care for afford their horses so I hope you remember this next time you call equestrian a sport for the elite. Remember the girls covered in dirt, sweat, and god knows what else from their day working at the barn remember that they have worked for every opportunity they were given and that is what this sport is about, it’s about working for what you want and never giving up.




Two Hearts

#TwoHearts. Horse and rider are a team unlike any other. The International Equestrian Federation came up with #TwoHearts to highlight the unique relationship between horse and rider to connect with a larger audience during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

#TwoHearts. Equestrian is a team sport in more way than one. You and your horse are team, and then you and your teammates are a team as well. Teamwork is something that can only be achieved when there is respect and understanding, which comes with patience and hard work.

In New Jersey at Knightsbridge I had the opportunity to ride a lot of different types of horses from hot headed mares to dead in their side geldings who literally did not want to move no matter what you did. I’ve been on horses that bucked me off, spun me off and just took off with me, so basically what I’m saying is I’ve had a very diverse set of experiences with horses. However, I had this one horse that I recently spent the majority of my time riding, the one that I fell in love with a bit more than the others, her name is Darla. I spent the last 6 months with Darla forming a bond.

I know there’s a lot of people out there who are wondering how it’s possible to get an animal that weighs like 1200 pounds to do what we want. Well the truth is the bond that we form with the horses is the key. Darla knew my footsteps coming down the barn aisle and she would stick her head out to say hi, I knew that when she cocked her head to the right side it meant she was itchy and wanted a scratch behind her ears. The relationship that I formed with Darla is like the one that a dog and their owner form. Both form out of trust and love. Horses and their riders are like those best friends that can finish each other’s sentences. That’s how well we get to know our horses and that’s how we get 1200 pound animals to jump over poles and logs and over water because of the trust that we have.

For the PSU riding team we don’t have just one horse to form a bond with instead we have to be able to read the language of the horse that we are riding for that day, since every week we ride a different horse which presents a different and new challenge. We do this because as part of the IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) we draw horses at horse shows and show them without any prior experience on them. Since with this we don’t have the time to create a long lasting bond, we have feel what he needs so that we can work together,  like if she or he doesn’t like to much pressure on their mouth or if they are lazy and need a strong leg.

Rider and Horse are a team just like any other team in sports and they have to work together to achieve their goals the only difference is that your teammate happens to be a 1200 pound horse with a mind of their own. The key just like other it is with other teams is trust.   



Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Hey, guys! What’s going on hope your first couple weeks of college have been amazing! Welcome to my blog PSU Equestrian, where you’ll get to see why us crazy horse girls choose to spend the majority of our time not shopping or studying for school but with our four legged best friends in and outside the ring, riding and taking care of them! Horseback riding has been a passion of mine since I was 7 years old and it’s one I want everyone else around me to understand as well which is why I’m writing this blog. I want to give you guys a glimpse into the horse world, what it means to me and the impact it’s had.

So for my first blog post, I thought it’d be appropriate to start at the beginning of where my passion began. I want to bring you all to the place that got me through high school, the place where I met the people who I know are going to be in my life forever. This place is Knightsbridge Farm. I spent more time at the barn than in my own house during high school, I saw my trainer and barn friends more than I saw my parents or school friends. Now most people would probably think this is crazy but for us barn girls it’s just the way life is and I for one couldn’t be more grateful.

It was a cold and gross winter when I really learned the value of hard work. I started riding a new horse Luna and man was it hard, in the beginning, we couldn’t seem to find a connection. I spent every day that winter just figuring out how to get along with this horse, some days she would take off with me, other days she would spin and buck me off depending on the mood she was in and how I had pissed her off. Eventually, we learned to work together and created a symbiotic relationship, one where both of us were happy we could do anything my trainer asked flawlessly. It may have taken a while and lot of hard work but I  finally built a healthy and strong relationship with Luna.

Practice makes perfect

As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. I would not be the person or the rider I am today without the hard work, dedication, and perseverance that Luna taught me.

Horses always have something to teach you, and the ability to help you grow if you are willing to listen. I think that’s part of the reason I love being around horses and why I choose to dedicate so much of my time to the equine world, it’s because they make me a better person not just in the ring but outside of it as well. I can’t wait to continue my journey with horses on the Penn State Equestrian Team and see where it leads me! Ride on State!