I’m Sonya and I’m adult beginner rider and a music teacher. I found the Red Wing Farm and horses at just the right time in my life.
I’ve had the same best friend since third grade. When she got a great job offer in Washington, D.C. I was so happy for her! She moved in June of 2013 and I spent most of the summer sulking around the house, incredibly lonely and depressed. By the time August hit, I decided I needed to do something to meet new people and fill time in my empty social calendar. I had seen a Living Social deal for riding lessons at Red Wing and made an appointment for my first lesson.
I have always been fascinated by horses and riding, but I had ridden inconsistently as a kid. I didn’t remember even how to put the saddle on. Luckily, Amber and Beth teach every aspect of being a horseman – from grooming and horse care, to different types of tack and training techniques.
I enjoyed my lessons and started riding more often, and after a year started showing at our local horse show series with Delaware Valley Horsemen’s Association (DVHA). I began leasing a seasoned show horse, Lance. He is a been-there, done-that type of horse and was a great teacher for me at that point in my lessons. Lance is patient with his rider and will tolerate you getting to know your own cues and body movements.
After the show season ended, I was on to another challenge. I began riding several different horses for a few months, both Western and English. Riding different horses is a lot of fun and definitely tests your skills. What works on one horse may not necessarily be effective on another horse the next time you ride. I finally settled on Lolita and showed her the next summer for our show season. I still lease her today.
Lolita is…a mare. She’s moody. She’s expressive. She’s a dream to ride! What drew me first to her was her smooth jog and lope – Riding her is like sitting on a sofa. She once had a reputation for spooking and being afraid of many things, but we have worked hard on obstacles, trail rides, and other scary situations. Lolita has always taken good care of me, even when she is unsure of the situation. When approaching something frightening, I can feel her hesitation, but we have been able to trust each other to make it through. She will always try for me. We are continuing to work on good ground manners and building our relationship while I improve my riding skills.
Riding is a release for me. My zen state. As a teacher, I make hundreds of decisions a day. I talk to kids for hours and sometimes have little contact with other adults. It’s nice to let someone else be the teacher for a few times a week. I can shut off my teacher brain: stop worrying about that paperwork deadline, the next lesson plans, or a problem student. I have sweat more, worked more, and ached more at the barn than I have anywhere else in my life, but always leave with a clear mind. Teachers never stop learning! In riding, there is always something new to learn or a technique to improve upon.
My goal at the barn, besides learning how to ride, was to make more friends and I have definitely have accomplished that (human and horse)! Even though we are all very different, we can bond over our love of horses and riding. Everyone at Red Wing encourages each other and you feel the love at every show, clinic, or even just when we get together to lesson or practice ride. I cannot believe the incredible people I have met through this sport! Thank you to Amber, Beth, the Clemmer and Jewell families, and my fellow Red Wingers for making our barn the best place to ride!