My life in the United States:
It actually all started in 1997, when I was in 8th grade. I'm from Switzerland, and my dad is Dutch.
Through this I got to travel a lot. So once we were talking about the cousin my dad has in America, and I said:
"I would like to go there for a year or so!" and this idea stayed in my mind.
So the next year we were looking for different organizations,
and then found one we liked and I signed up for a year in the States.
I didn't think of anything special, but then I got a fax from the family I was going to stay with.
I still remember my reaction when I read: "And the thing you will like the most: we have seventeen horses!"
I was so exited! Horses were always important to me, so this was special.
Unfortunately I never had the chance to own a horse, but I ride sine I'm 6 years old,
and since the last 5 years I ride with a friend who owns an Icelandic horse.
We never really rode dressage or western, but my dream was to learn how to ride western.
On August 6th 1998 I flew to Lansing, MI and they picked me up at the airport.
They are Teri, my hostmom, Linda, her friend and Taylor and Haley, my two little host siblings.
And we drove to my home for this year. We went further and further into the country,
and then we stopped in front of a huge barn! And there were horses everywhere!
So we went to the house, they showed me, where to go, and then they lead me around the barns,
there were at that point three of them, one was still in construction, now there are five,
and they introduced me to the horses.
After a while, I got used to everything, and started to help with the horses.
And the new barn was staring to look like a barn and Teri and I would spend a lot of time in there building
and staining the stalls and picking rocks out of the arena. We had a few new babies, and that was interesting.
Teri gave me the chance to get closer to newborn foals, than I ever did.
One of them, a little paint filly was still at her mother's side and I enjoyed watching her grow up.
I think during those eleven months in Michigan, I learned to love horses even more than I did before.
Before I went there, I had a bad experience with a horse kicking me, and was scared of leading a horse because of that.
However, my hostmom didn't know this, and the first time the farrier came out, she told me to get different horses,
also one what wasn't quite that easy to handle, and thanks to this, I got over my fear very fast.
I also rode in the school team and took western riding lessons. I started to love it, and I turned into a cowgirl,
wore Wranglers and western boots and all what belongs to it and I loved to go watch the rodeos and started to learn
how to barrel race. I just thought about, that I probably should tell you, why we had so many horses:
Teri breeds Quarter Horses and Paints and has always a whole bunch of horses from babies to welfare and huge dressage horses.
I remember the first rodeo I saw I went there with the girl who worked for Teri and some of her friends.
The best part was that we took the horses and we camped out with them up there for three days.
We rode around and took the horses up to the arena to watch roping or whatever was on at the time.
After this I really was a cowgirl, and I started to get really interested in running speed.
Unfortunately I didn't have a speed horse to use at home, but Bobbie, the trainer and teacher on "Pingree Hills",
Teri's stable, had a horse that was able to run. They didn't use it, so she brought if over to my house,
and I started to practice speed on him. His name is Fire Streak, and he was the kindest horse ever on the trail rides
he loved to take off, but when we went by ourselves, he was fine, as long I didn't run him. But in the pasture,
I could do every thing on him I would get on, and just stay there till I was warm and cozy, and he would just stand there,
and let me brush his mane or just ignore me.
Actually, I always liked to work in the barn: to pick the stalls, groom the horses, ride, and everything what comes with it.
So I spent most my time there, even when it was just to watch Bobbie starting the two-year-olds out or working
with my mom's darling, a pretty, tall Paint mare named Repo. I learned a lot about horses through watching,
working and listening, and the most important thing, I learned how to ride western, what was my dream.
I could use whichever horse I wanted, so I got a lot of experience in riding different horses.
But this year also had bad sides. I saw many injuries and animals dying,
but it was good to see, what horses bring with them.
It might not be that good to tell you the following story, but I just have to.
The horse I rode in the equestrian team, she was a wonderful western pleasure horse, with wonderful smooth, slow gates,
named Dee, died while I was there. It was very sad, but I have some nice memories with her.
I'm going to tell you the best one: It was an extremely cold winter day, and there were about fifteen inches of snow.
The fields were frozen, and since we were the only house on a mile, we had tons of fields around the farm.
I was walking to the house from the new barn (with a dressage sized inside arena, room for seventeen horses,
a nice little "observation room" and an office) I went by the "mare barn"
(little barn with four bigger stalls for the mothers and their babies), where Dee was.
Without thinking, I went inside, grabbed her bridal, and took her out of the pasture I jumped on,
without grooming or putting a saddle on her, and we went around the block. She was nice and warm,
and she could read my mind, so it was very easy to lead her. We jogged and just had fun, and then the last field,
before we came back to the farm, came I turned into the field, and we started running. After like two seconds,
my reins were on her neck, my hands in the air, and I was screaming like crazy because I was so happy
I will always remember her; she was my baby.
Another great experience was a dressage clinic we had in spring with a known dressage rider from the Netherlands,
Fred Weber. It was for a whole weekend, and he gave lessons and rode some of the horses what came there for the clinic.
Even though I prefer western, I had a nice time, and learned a lot.
About three weeks ago I went back to visit and it was strange so realize all the differences.
Many horses changed, and the "stud barn" with a two-year old Friesian and a three-year old Paint colt got built.
I was really excited to go back. And just because I was lucky, there was another dressage clinic the first weekend
I was there. This time with Marianne Cleveland. It was great! And Teri had three mares that were waiting for their foals,
and one of them even foaled while I was there. It was a little black and white filly born to my absolute darling Beauty.
In this picture she is one hour old. And because of her color, my friends and I called her Oreo.
This was a very nice experience for me, since I never saw a foal that was so young.
Unfortunately none of the other mares had her foal while I was there.
When I think back at all the things that happened while I was there, it makes me a little nostalgic.
I like it there a lot. I still have to smile when I think back about the time when we had to do hay.
They have this huge field what gets cut three times. The first time we had some guys from our rival school
coming over to help. And they all showed up in muscle shirts and shorts. Haha.. can you imagine how that must feel?
And they were tired so fast and I was just laughing at them because they were all those real strong football guys...
But anyway. The next time we did hay, none of those strong guys showed up, and we did it just with us five girls,
and we were even faster. That was funny.
Well, I think I probably got to an end of my story about my life in the US. It was quite nice to write all of it down.
It just took me a long time. But when anyone wants to know more, or is just interested in writing me, feel free to do so.
My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.