When I heard about Operation Speak Out with Your Geek Out from Tiarala at Dragon*Con, I knew I was on board. The problem was, what would I write about? There are so many things that I geek out for. I started my official geekdom with Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 5th grade and moved on to a list that is simply endless. I couldn’t possibly pick just one thing to write about! Then it hit me. What is the one thing I have always geeked out for? The answer was simple. Those who know me know that the one topic I can talk endlessly about is horses.
I grew up, like most little girls, loving horses. I loved everything about them. I would pour over horse magazines and stare at pictures of the jumpers, reiners and eventers. I dreamt about what it would be like to ride like that, to compete in a horse show. I taped any equestrian events that aired on TV and watch them until the VHS tapes wore out and I went to horsemanship camp every summer. I did whatever I could to be around horses. I never really had friends who were into horses and I was already teased at school for being a geek, so I kept my horsie dreams to myself.
When Lord Monkeypants and I were dating I saw an ad for riding lessons at a local stable. Palos Hills Riding Stables (“PHRS”) was unlike any barn I had ever been to. Everyone was warm and inviting. PHRS specialized in a style of riding I had never heard of before…Saddleseat. I started taking several lessons each week. Each lesson was an hour of freedom when I didn’t have to think about the overly stressful job I had at the time. It was a release, a way to relax and escape.
Through a series of what can only be described as twists of fate, Lord Monkeypants and I welcomed an American Saddlebred gelding named Radio Star into our family. It’s been almost three years since we bought Radio and there are times when I still can’t believe he’s mine. Radio has taught me patience, humility and courage. He challenges me and keeps me on my toes, but he takes care of me too. He nuzzles me when I’m sad and lets me hug his long neck for as long as I need to. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
Riding gave me something else that I never truly had, horse friends! I’ve met the most amazing people at PHRS. We ride together and train together. We show together and sometimes even compete against each other. We’re a support system, a family bound together by a shared love of the sport. If it weren’t for PHRS I would never have met PlayItGrand! It’s true what they say about barn friends. They are your second family.
My “geek” and horse passions collided when I learned William Shatner and his wife Elizabeth owned and trained American Saddlebreds. I started to fangirl for their horses Call Me Ringo and Boston Legal, looking up everything I could about them. When William Shatner was added to the Dragon*Con guest list this year I knew I had to get his autograph. While everyone else stood in line with their Star Trek memorabilia I clutched my copy of Saddle & Bridle magazine tightly to my chest. He seemed surprised and amused that amongst the crowd of Trekkies was a fellow rider who admired him not for his work in entertainment, but for his work with horses.
Horseback riding is unlike anything else. There’s a bond between horse and rider that’s indescribable. It’s feeling of flying going over a jump, the serenity of being alone with your horse on trail, and the adrenaline rush of the show ring that keeps me wanting more. Every ride is different and every horse teaches you something new. Part of riding is having no fear. If you’re scared of horses or riding, don’t let your fear hold you back. Push past it. Go to a barn, hang around the horses and try a beginner lesson. You’ll be proud of yourself for doing it. Who knows, when you feel the wind in your hair, hear the thundering hoofbeats beneath you, or feel the soft nuzzle of a horse nose against your cheek, you may just fall in love and never look back.
“A lovely horse is always an experience… It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words.” –Anonymous