The Gritty Bit – A Series on Real Horse People – Bonnie, 50
-What made you decide to pursue a life that involved horses?
My parents put me on a pony ride at a Carnival when I was around 4 or 5 years old. I fell in love with horses instantly! I remember the smell of the ponies, the smell of the little leather saddle, the feel of the pony moving under me and the pure joy that I felt. I especially loved that I felt safe and secure on the pony and I felt like I made a real life-long connection.
-Who or what inspired you in life?
I was very shy growing up. Fortunately, both my Parents and Grandparents felt that having me be around animals would help keep me busy and happy. I am grateful for their decision and the inspiration to help me find what I love truly doing, which is working with horses.
-What's the hardest lesson you've ever learned?
I have learned that the delicacies of human interaction can be quite challenging and that life has recently reminded me to stay strong, positive and continue to always advocate for the horse on their behalf and to help them be heard...no matter what!
-What is your favorite part about working with horses?
Understanding their language as if I were a horse myself and the satisfaction that I am able to help them through understanding them.
-What's the toughest part about working with horses?
Not being able to afford all of the luxuries horses deserve.
-What do you want to be remembered for when you're gone?
That Bonnie truly cared about horses and did everything she could to improve their lives.
-How have you seen the industry change over the course of your career?
I am happy to see the industry set boundaries, target horse abuse, and undesirable practices more than ever, especially at horse shows. I am happy to see that there are more awareness and interest from people who are seeking knowledge and technology to improve the lives of horses in so many ways. It makes me happy that we have better means these days to communicate with each other for the sake of our horses to share information and support our horses in better ways now than ever before.
-What's your biggest regret?
That I did not plan my finances or set myself up well enough over the years based on some of the decisions I made in my life in order to support having my own top equestrian facility by now. I still work towards that goal every day!
-What do you do when you aren't with horses?
I am constantly thinking about horses, dreaming of them, striving to reach my next goal with horses and planning for the next time when I can spend time with them.
-What struggles did you have when you first started or do you still have today?
I have always struggled with trying to get people to understand that horse problems are directly related to some sort of human error. I welcome anyone who needs examples of this to help them understand how that can be explained. When I am called out to help a horse with a "behavioral problem", it's the humans that I first look into in regards to how they are keeping the horse, their interaction with the horse, their routine and everything else in between to pinpoint where and how the behavioral started or is being blocked from being improved upon. The "horse problems" I find, start with the human in one or all of those areas. When the area of an issue from the human is improved, the horse's behavioral issues melt right away before our eyes. Working with the horse afterward then becomes the easy part. The struggle for me has always been that humans tend to put their egos and their status in the horse world FIRST and do not allow themselves to view the situation through the mind of the horse, but instead they are guarded and often feel embarrassed or even feel insulted if you bring up something they did not think about or feel is too difficult to change (even if it will help immediately the horse!). This is excruciatingly frustrating to me since I can only "highly suggest" what I believe will help the horse or the situation. On the positive side, I enjoy helping the people who are open-minded and put their egos and status aside. This is when I can see the horse then has a clear path to be helped, and it is because of those cases why I continue to advocate for the horse.