Soccer became my outlet; I loved it. I was very competitive and my ego was big. I always had to be the best and that was the challenge I needed to work hard. I went on to play in college and eventually professionally for two seasons for the Delaware Genies. I tried to forge a career in soccer by coaching a lot of college and youth teams, but it wasn't enough to survive financially.
While I coached, I took a few corporate jobs: sales, sports reporter, then a research analyst at McGraw-Hill; none were fulfilling. I wanted something else that would challenge me and give me the possibility of a career. Corporate America wasn't it.
In 2001, I had the urge to start working around horses again. I definitely missed it so, I looked in the yellow pages for horse farms in the area and found Mile View Farm in Doylestown, PA. I called and asked if they needed any help, even just cleaning stalls. I wasn't sure what would come of it, but it was something different. Hanne' bought Mile View just two years earlier; it was a fifty stall barn with horses everywhere. I was hired and was a horrible stall cleaner; I was told that for about two weeks, but I worked hard and that's what saved my job. A few months after starting, I began spending all my early mornings at the barn helping any way I could. It sucked me in pretty quickly. I didn't care how much I got paid, I just wanted to learn about all the things I never learned as a younger rider. How do horses interact? What was I doing when I rode? How do horses think? I became a sponge; probably an annoying one, actually. I asked a lot of questions and did anything and everything I could to learn more. I also started taking lessons again with a dressage trainer. I had no idea what dressage was, but I was so thrilled to be riding again. I was seen as the kid at the barn that might have a chance to get a horse one day, but I soon knew this was the only future I was going to have.
I learned a lot in two short years. In 2003, I bought a horse; a baby no less. I bought him off a video tape. Yep! Back then we didn't have Facebook or text message videos. I would tell anyone today that it was a bad idea. He was a "leftover" for $2,000; an 18 month old TB by Viscount bred to be a show hunter, not for the track. Jedi was his name. He became my world.
The first night he was at the barn, he rolled in a mud puddle. I went to the barn the next morning and was beside myself. Who dumped all this mud all over my horse. I couldn't believe someone would do that to a baby horse. I was clueless; I needed a lot of help to say the least.
I decided to hire a local trainer, JR Rosenburger, who was recommended to me because he was good with baby horses. He was John Lyons Certified; John Lyons is "America's Most Trusted Horseman". I had no idea who that was or what that meant. But, JR was good with baby horses and that's all that mattered. JR came out once a week to teach me how to handle Jedi. That's all I could afford at the time. So, there I was, immersed in whatever it was I was learning. Move this, bend that, give here, give there. It made no sense......until it did.
I practiced every day. I was once again a sponge; the more I learned, the more it made total sense. But I still knew nothing.
A few years had passed, Jedi was now under saddle and he had been to a few shows. It was the summer of 2005 and JR got hurt. A horse he was training threw a buck and JR was pushed into the horn of the western saddle and he fractured his pelvis. He asked me if I wanted to help him with a few clients until he was able to ride again. I said yes, of course. I only worked with a few of his clients, but those next few months gave me the confidence to take the leap. In 2006, I quit my corporate job and moved to Parachute, Colorado. I spent six months in Parachute and learned so much from John and Josh Lyons; how to train a horse, how to read a horse's body language, how to think like a horse, how to respect a horse, and a million ways to problem solve. But I wasn't done learning. I never am...it wasn't until years later that I actually figured out how to put it all together.
Fifteen years later, I get all types of horses in for training. Horses that aren't rideable, aren't trainable, aren't safe, horses that buck, that don't lunge properly, that don't load on the trailer, don't lead without taking off, don't pick up their feet for the farrier, are aggressive, refuse jumps, don't go forward under saddle, and so on.
What I've learned is that I don't know everything. I don't do anything special with them. I don't have any magic recipe. I just take my time and give them a chance to learn. I look at their eye and make sure they understand, I watch their ears to make sure they are listening to me, I watch their head to make sure they are lowering it with confidence, I watch their breath to make sure they exhale.
I hope you enjoy my blog. In future entries, I will talk about horses I have in training at my facility, previous examples of similar horses, experiences I've had with horses in the past and my life's adventures. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to helping just one horse "from the ground up".
John Lyons Certified
Horseback Riding Lessons
Jessica Forliano is a John Lyons Certified Trainer specializing in Problem horses / behavioral issues and starting young horses and ponies under saddle. Her passion shows through the accomplishments of each of horse or pony she works with as they reach their potential in the show ring.