Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Blogger Jennifer Barker St. John



There is a microcosm located on horse show grounds across the country that goes by many different titles; in our area its usually Ring 3, but maybe where you are its the annex ring, or the academy ring. It hosts the beginner divisions, like walk trot, cross-rails, etc.

It is usually in a different zip code from the Main Hunter Ring and The Pony Ring. It is so unknown to many trainers that it may as well be Area 51—but not to me, I’m a Ring 3 specialist.

Fellow Young Professionals, next time someone from the “good old days” of horsemanship asks you for help backing up their iPad or resetting their router, think twice…

The baby boomers have mastered the Internet, and they’re using it against us. They don’t like what we teach (or don’t teach) our students, they don’t like what we wear and they really don’t like our release. They don’t think we’re Horsemen.

And maybe they’re right. I’ve stood in the shadows of enough great Horsemen to know that I may never be one. But that doesn’t keep me from trying.

I am not a Lead Change Guru. But I know one, and that fact alone gave me the confidence to import a horse that considered cross-cantering his fifth gait.

As it turns out, teaching a young horse to change leads and potty training Holston were not all that different, so it didn’t take a guru to get Paintball on the right track…it took a mom. Here are some similarities I discovered along the way…

Every five weeks I have a counseling session. For about an hour we chat about my career change, the challenges of working with animals AND children, and the advantages of aluminum versus steel. Some people have psychologists, others have bartenders—I have a farrier.


“Can you buy me a pink pony?” my toddler daughter Holston asked when I told her I was going with “Grandpa Johnny” to Europe to shop for horses.

“Good mover AND good jumper!!” she added.

With the minions all suitably mounted and myself still a few years from wanting anything as big and fancy as what we’d be looking at in Europe, Holston’s tall order was my only one.



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