My Mom and Dad tell me that I loved animals before anyone ever influenced me about them. I guess that must be true because animals are my main passion, and what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have so many ideas about building a business around horse and dog care. Maybe it is in making this love into a career that people have influenced me, and in a good way.

Learning all I can about all equines for my future career.

My parents encourage me to have mentors and role models besides them. I am lucky enough to have several.

I think Mom is my first role model where horses are concerned. I guess she is also a mentor, but I just call her Mom. I got my interest in horse hooves from her, though she says I was a natural in the saddle the first time she put me on a horse. I’m glad she goes the barefoot route with horses or I might like shoes. Instead, I get to know early that bare is better.

Mom doing what she loves.

My Mom has been a professional trimmer and EasyCare dealer for several years now. She knows a lot about boots, but her client, Lynn Brunetto, probably knows even more. Lynn has had her horses barefoot for 12 years now and has been booting them for 10. She has tried many different hoof boot styles, but Epics are still her favorite. She is really good at fitting and tightening it and it stays on really well.  Lynn goes on many benefit rides, private rides, ACTRA rides and AERC rides. She always uses hoof boots. I hope I will be as good with hoof boots as she is.

Lynn is riding her Morgan, Ivan, with Epics in front and Bare in back.

Liz Stout is a really cool riding partner. When she was my age, she had an older girl who helped support her love of riding. She wants to pass that along, and has decided to pass it along to me!  Liz is going to be my sponsor in the endurance ride in August because I am too young to ride it on my own. While Liz is a horse-person role model, she is especially a mentoring role model. I hope I will “pass it along” as she has.

Liz and me last fall. She is riding Bella and I am on a very dirty Nanny.

After Mom started trimming, she also learned more about equine teeth and body balancing. She hired Krystin Dennis of to come and be our Balance Equine Dentist. Krystin is really good with teeth, and she is really good at teaching others about teeth. She taught me to do a pre-dental exam last summer and I got to help her with all of our horses. She also taught our whole 4H Club at an “All About Balance” Camp/Clinic last June. Krystin practices Balanced Dentistry and is a barefoot enthusiast. I hope I can become as good a dentist as she is!  (I want to do it all!).

Watching Krystin work her magic on Nanny last summer. Nanny loves Krystin.

Sonya Penson was our equine 4H leader until this year. She still stays active and helps us when she can. She is the only person on this list who is not 100% barefoot. Even so, she is a wonderful teacher and horse person and neighbor, and she does go at least partially barefoot. Her first pair of hoof boots were Epics. When Sonya got a new horse this spring, she remarked to my Mom, “I need to get his shoes pulled so I can ride him!” Sonya is a role model to me for always taking excellent care of horses on a daily basis, working hard, and always being a good leader/neighbor.

Sonya loves teaching kids how to take care of horses.

Erica Janes is a newer role model for me. She recently gave a clinic to my 4H Club on ground work with your horse based on her studies with Buck Brannaman. I learned from her that I need to soften my approach and listen more to Nanny, Bella and Phoenix. She also taught us that people sometimes bully horses, which we should not do of course, and that everything with our horses is our responsibility. Erica has Glove Back Countries on backorder and can’t wait to try them out.

Erica is in pink, demonstrating with one of our 4H horses.

The next to the last role model I will list is also the most important, the most important mentor as well. She has influenced my horsemanship the most. She is my long-time riding instructor, Carol Burdick. Carol is a certified Centered Riding Instructor. Carol has taught me how to use my whole body to ride, not just my hands or heels. She has taught me to feel. She has also taught me to “just do it” without getting frustrated. Learning not to get frustrated has not always been easy, but I am getting better at it. Carol also hosted the first barefoot trimming clinic in North Central West Virginia at her Terra Alta Lake Farm. All of her horses are barefoot and she has a variety of EasyCare hoof boots. Carol is a role model and mentor for me in so many different ways, especially as a wonderful, all around horse woman.

Carol (with Nanny) sharing her love of horses with the youngest 4H members, the Cloverbuds.

Finally, I want to list my Dad as a role model. He is kind of a funny one for this blog because he does not really like having so many horses and animals around. But he loves us, so he tries to be good-natured about it. And he helps out in a pinch when we need it, especially with late night hay runs in winter. He has come to appreciate at least one thing about our horse craziness: They give him “black gold” (composted manure) for his garden! He is a role model because sometimes we have to support what our loved ones enjoy, even when we do not.

My Dad and me at the 1st Annual Equine Wellness Clinic at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg, PA.

Thanks for reading! Who are your role models and mentors?