A lot of the time I feel as though I am teaching people life skills through working with horses.

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What do you do?
I am a horse trainer and horseback-riding instructor. I train horses in the fields of dressage and show jumping. Horses come to me in all stages of training; whether I’m breaking a horse or just putting finishing touches on it, the overall goal is to teach the animal to be respectful, trusting and willing. Beyond training the horse, I train the rider. I teach people how to respond to horses kindly, but firmly. I … show them how to care for the animal, and [teach them] to not get fixated on ribbons but to use the show ring to meet personal goals. A lot of the time I feel as though I am teaching people life skills through working with horses.

What is a normal day like?
My day is scattered between teaching riding lessons and schooling horses. I have a wide spectrum of students in terms of their abilities. Just like a classroom teacher, I prepare lesson plans to keep every rider challenged and moving forward with their skills. The Gold Creek school horses as well as my clients’ personal horses need tuning up every now and then, so certain days I set aside time to work with those horses.

How did you get that job?
My family always had horses, so I grew up around them. As a kid, I rode all kinds, from stubborn ponies to racehorses off the track. My family went from boarding neighbors’ horses at our little barn on 5 acres to owning Gold Creek Equestrian Center [in Woodinville]. I have taught riding lessons here since I was 16, and in the summers throughout college. I graduated with a teaching certificate and plans to be an elementary teacher, but realized I had had my dream job all along.

What’s the best part of the job?
The best part of the job is seeing the progress in my students — the people as well as the horses. I get very ecstatic when both rider and horse succeed in accomplishing a task together.

What surprises people about your job?
A lot of students come to learn how to ride a horse with the interpretation that they can learn in a month or two, but there’s a lot more to it than just sitting on top of the horse. They usually end their lesson exhausted and astonished that it was such a good workout! Horseback riding is a sport for a reason; show jumping in particular takes a lot of strength, technique and a certain finesse to make a jump round look easy.