So. How many times have I said that raising and campaigning a young horse takes a village? I think I repeat that to myself daily, trying to remind myself I’m not always in this alone. Well, before there were all of you incredible people (my own little online support team I can never thank enough!), there were my parents and Erin, @erinmcleodeventing
For those of you are just learning about this project, I’m Bailey, aka Joyful Dressage. We all “joke” as a community that we were that weird horse girl in school. Here I am to fulfill that stereotype! As practically an infant, I became obsessed with horses. Not just pretty ponies, but a full-blown investigation into breeds and their origins. My parents let me take a pony ride as a three year old (HUGE MISTAKE), and here we are 20 years later. At 23, I’m lucky enough to have both of my dearest companions, Apple and Joy, on my rental property with my amazing horsey (soon to be!) husband, some small dogs, and a very rowdy kitten. Apple, my 13.3hh childhood heartthrob of 17 years and the dirtiest spooker I ever met, came into my life as a lease pony. First a half lease, then a full, then a Christmas present to never forget in 2004.
Apple hated dressage, and neither one of us were superiorly successful jumpers. As I realized I would surpass Apple’s small statute, I learned more and more about dressage. I fell in love. It’s weird to fall in love with a process, isn’t it? After another lease on an appendix paint I schooled up to 2nd level, some crash courses in barn managing/breeding, being a working student and exercise rider with a relatively mediocre show record, something happened. A premature chestnut Trakehner filly literally laid down in my lap one muggy April morning in 2009. The rest is history.
The middle bit is tough, as it is for any horse crazy girl, teenager, or even young adult. Managing school and an undying passion is difficult. I was homeschooled kinder-high school, taking classes at a local community college in junior and senior year to gain college credit. It sounds pretty easy, right? Contrary to popular homeschooling/un-schooling rumors, my home studies were pretty rigorous. I was simply allowed to take my school to the barn or do my work once I returned home for the evening.
I started college in 2012, the same year I started Joy under saddle. This meant early mornings and late nights, adjusting to a typical college workload while beginning to juggle the requirements of producing a young horse. Spoiler: a lot of homework was done at horse shows. I commuted to school, a good 40 miles a day, and my riding had to be arranged around my studies. Thanks to good coffee and being unable to go a day without being in the saddle, I graduated in 2016 and got a grown-up job. In my Junior year, beginning my graduate studies after being accepted to an accelerated Bachelors to Masters program, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to attend law school. On top of commuting, training/showing, studying for an 18hr course load, I began studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Thank god that was over in 2015, and after a brief academic moratorium, I began law school infall of 2017. I think that gets us all up to speed on my non-horsey life…
Where does Erin fit into this? Well, I was a very shy homeschooled little girl, believe it or not. That’s one of the reasons I loved horses so much. I was introverted and quiet and horses understood that, no questions asked. Around summer of 1999, I attended a pony camp. One of those fun things you got to do a child, where you learned basic horsemanship, cleaned tack, took lessons, and hopefully made some friends. The first day, I met this bright blond girl. Older than me, taller than me, made me laugh, and she shared her Lunchables with me. She was willowy – self assured – all the things I wasn’t. There, between learning to bathe ponies and eating frozen Butterfingers, solidified a friendship that grew with us.
Before anyone else, there was Erin. She is the OG Joy Team. She was the 2nd person to ever ride Joy. She came to our first schooling show, now 5 ½ years ago, and has come to every show since. She helped when I needed a place to safely board my little psycho. She’s Joy’s favorite Auntie, and she's my best friend.
And now here we are. Two girls, two red mares, two patterned ponies. An eventer and a dressage rider with a combined 35+ years of horse experience. We’ve both been craving some creative stimulation and thought dipping our toes into the waters of equestrian blogging could be good for the both of us and entertaining (educational?) for you readers. Bear with us as we work out the kinks and subtle nuisances as I’m far from technology competent, but we’re elated to share this project with you all.
Can't wait to chat more, my friends.