A History with Horses

Riding pic with Ralph Waldo Emerson quote

I started riding when I was 6 years old. I was that little girl obsessed with ponies, and my mom had a co-worker who had horses. That’s how I ended up starting lessons which formed a passion that still burns today.

I still remember my first lesson quite clearly. My trainer taught me how to lead a horse properly, the basics of grooming, a little bit about tacking up as well as the names of the equipment used, and some general equine anatomy. I didn’t get on that day, but it set the framework for learning horsemanship. I was in love from day 1.

Over the years, I continued to ride and show. I trained with a few different trainers in the Tallahassee area and made friends who shared my passion.

Jumping a fence Tallahassee A Show 2001   Schooling at Horse show

Most days I would come home from school and go straight to ride. I spent countless hours dropping my irons in an effort to have tight, steady lower leg or practicing that rollback turn until it was flawless. Many of my thoughts were centered around counting strides and seeing the perfect spot. I remember drawing diagrams of the ring at the barn during class, and making up new courses to try that afternoon when I rode. Horses were my life.

Jesse at HITS Ocala 2002 But there was one horse in particular that had a monopoly on my time. Purchased as a trail horse for my father when I was 7, I ended up stealing Jesse when my regular lesson pony turned up lame. From then on, he was my best friend and partner in crime from crossrails through children’s hunters. He truly taught me how to ride. He knew when to act like a brat and test me, but he also knew when to be a saint and save my ass – like at HITS Ocala in 2002 when it was raining and the footing was wet and it left me on the nervous side, so he packed me around like an angel and gave me enough confidence so he could act like a jerk the next day. The rain also explains the pissed off expression to the left. Such a good boy.

After he passed away when I was 21, I stopped riding. Between being a college student then moving to Central Florida and finding my way in my career path, riding just wasn’t fitting into the picture. Before I knew it, it’d be 8 years since I’d ridden.

I’ve had the itch to start riding again for several years, and finally, I’ve been able to make that a reality. I found a farm near my office that has reasonably priced lesson packages and a strong focus on hunters.

I dusted off my boots, and I’ve been out for two lessons already. I’m pretty proud that I’m not nearly as rusty as I thought I’d be, and that I don’t think it’ll take me long to get back where I was with a little consistency. And stretching. Because soreness from riding is completely different at 30 with 8 years out of the saddle. Trust me on this one.

Needless to say, horses have taken back over my life (to an extent), and I couldn’t be happier. Now I just need to find a sugar daddy to fund my horse habit.

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Devon Stiles


  1. I love that you rekindled your love of riding. Maybe next time I come down we can visit the stables and I can meet Hootie. 🙂

  2. Oh, how awesome! I used to ride, too, and I miss it. Mr PugRunner has absolutely zero interest in us moving to some land and getting a horse, but if we do, you will be my first call. I’m so glad you are getting back into something you love! Keep us posted!

    Hootie’s gorgeous.

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