For the last 22 years, I have worked over a dozen equine related jobs. Some of those opportunities ranged from summer jobs and internships to working off board and show fees and all the way to actual vocations. I've worked with foals, young horses in training, old horses in retirement, Paint horses, Quarter Horses, Drafts, Arabians, ponies, school horses, broodmares, stallions, Thoroughbreds at the sales, Thoroughbreds off the track, horses that were sick or injured, and so many other breeds, situations, and circumstances. And I've ridden Saddle Seat, Western, and Hunt Seat (including hunters and jumpers). While my heart tends to always lean towards the Thoroughbreds and the hunter world, I am extremely grateful for the widespread experience I have gained through so many different avenues in the world of horses. My past has allowed me to glean knowledge from each area and move forward with a deeper understanding of the horse in general.
While I would love to chat about each one of those jobs and the people and horses I met along the way, here are my top 5 equine jobs (not including Bright Side, of course, because the ranch would CERTAINLY be at the top of my list). These are in no particular order, by the way:
1. Rappahannock Equine Veterinary Clinic - Just outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is an equine medical and surgical clinic where I worked for the three years we spent in that area. This really was my favorite job. Every day was unique and interesting. Some days the vets were out on calls, and I had to manage the schedule, clients, files, data, medicine cabinets, and the clinic. Other days, we had a patient that came in for x-rays, surgery, or observation. Assisting in surgery was incredible, and I gained a whole new appreciation for the clinical side of the veterinary world. I also worked here when my horse was diagnosed with both EPM and Lymes Disease and blew a suspensory ligament. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful for the staff discount both at this clinic and our referral one at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic.
2. Cedar Rock Horse Farm - Located in Castalia, North Carolina, I spent a couple of summers working here. I went from a teenager who rode only during lessons and knew a little bit about horses to a girl ready to take on an equine major at college and ride for an intercollegiate team. It was also here that I was first introduced to round pens and natural horsemanship, which totally changed my view of training young horses. I was on this property from sun up to sun down, seven days a week, and I LOVED it. I was able to care for the horses, clean stalls, assist in training youngsters, play with foals, and develop skills in teaching riding lessons. During my time at Cedar Rock, I discovered that horses who are strong, pull hard, and go fast tend to be the type I get along with well. Give me a horse I have to kick to the fences and I become an anxious, in-a-hurry, leaning forward kind of rider. Give me a horse that is pulling me along and taking me to the fences, and I'm so much more balanced and calm about everything. I know, it doesn't make sense, but it works for me.
3. Three Chimneys Farm - This is a prestigious Thoroughbred breeding farm just outside of Lexington, Kentucky. As a junior in college and a summer intern, I spent my time split between the accounting office and the yearling division. I learned so much on both ends and was able to meet some pretty incredible people and horses. My favorite part was parking in front of Seattle Slew's paddock every morning. He still had so much charisma in his old age! I walked away from Three Chimneys with a greater appreciation for the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky and an interest in tracing bloodlines.
4. Summer Glenn Farm - I discovered quite a few of my own strengths and weakness as I managed this hunter/jumper barn in Georgetown, Kentucky. It was during my time here I found a passion for teaching lessons and working with kids, and I developed a love for retraining Thoroughbreds coming off the racetrack.
5. Midway College Equine Department - I graduated from Midway College with an Equine Studies degree with a Concentration in Equitation Instruction. Yes, that's quite a title. And, there's plenty of details to go with my time as a student, but I had an opportunity to return as staff in the Equine Department a few years after graduation. It was a blast! The Equine staff at that time was so much fun to work with, and I even had a chance to take my own horse down to Ocala to show with some girls from the riding team. Being assistant to the department chair generated quite a few unique connections, and one even led to an opportunity for me write articles for a local publication.
From my beginnings in North Carolina to college and work in Kentucky, time spent in Virginia and Wisconsin, and now the start of Bright Side in the Carolinas, horses have been a part of every step in the journey. I am so thankful for each person and each horse along the way who have helped shaped who I am today.