MJ Terrell

MJ was one of those kids who would gallop around pretending to ride her imaginary horse. Or sometimes she WAS a horse. The first thing she ever drew was a unicorn. But she was born and raised in the inner city and the only exposure she ever got to horses was a week-long horse camp in the summer for four years of her young life. After that she tried to trail ride whenever she was traveling somewhere new, the most memorable being a trail ride through Hyde Park in London. Unfortunately, life always seemed to steer her away from the path she truly felt she was meant to take. For the spirit of the horse always called to her.

Finally, about 4 years ago her life was in such a state that she just had to follow the tug on her spirit and she discovered some beginner horsemanship and riding classes at a mounted combat school in Richmond. She began taking group lessons as well as private lessons 3 or 4 times a week, determined to make up for lost time. She even took some of the combat on horseback classes. Little did she know that handling a sword on horseback might prepare her for the likes of the garrocha pole in the future. About a year into these lessons she suffered a bad fall from horseback and was unable to ride for many months. Not wanting to be without horses again she took a part time job at a large equestrian facility so she could at least be around horses regularly.

The way the horses were kept and treated did not sit well with her and left a lasting impression. She went back to lessons at the mounted combat school when she was physically healed but the emotional scars were far from healed. Her confidence was shaken and the lessons no longer gave her quite the same joy.

After a few months of struggling with lessons that left her feeling even less confident, the fear bubbling a lot closer to the surface, she quit taking lessons. That was when MJ stumbled upon natural horsemanship. She realized there was a better way and that there were people out there who actually craved the connection and partnership with their horses that she so desperately wanted too. She started leasing a horse and taking regular lessons from a local natural horsemanship instructor. Her learning grew in leaps and bounds and she was finally understanding horses and how to relate to them on their level. It wasn’t just hop on and go. There was so much more substance.

While looking at other horses to potentially lease as the one she had been leasing had a lot of physical and mental issues, she met Sienna. A beautiful 6 year old Andalusian cross that immediately drew MJ to her. The owner basically told her upon first meeting that Sienna would be up for sale and that MJ was going to buy her. Laughing this off, MJ started leasing her and taking lessons on her. Sienna was also quite green and hadn’t been done much with as her owner was a cutting cowgirl and Sienna was not really suitable for the sport. MJ did the responsible thing and leased her for about 8 months before finally realizing a lifelong dream and making Sienna hers.

When she bought her the former owner and Sienna’s vet both suggested MJ look into Working Equitation as MJ wasn’t really sure what journey she wanted to take with Sienna yet. They were both so green and learning. MJ decided they needed to work on their partnership and connection first before committing to any specific discipline. She took her to mountain trail clinics, desensitizing clinics, liberty clinics, joined a drill team, went for trail rides and had regular weekly lessons. It was at one of these clinics that MJ met Dean and Dena and heard all about the Working Equitation camp and cup in Oregon. Once again WE had been brought to her attention. This time from some riders and horses that were of similar experience level. MJ loved how inclusive, supporting and accepting the people sounded. And so, she became involved with the West Coast chapter, attending play days and clinics and eagerly signing up for the Cross National Cup in Alberta in 2019, an experience that is sure to bring her and Sienna even closer, while making many new like-minded friends and spending quality time with the ones she already has.

MJ has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Working Equitation community, for that truly is what it is. MJ looks forward to continuing to foster the good will and supportive atmosphere of the newer discipline of Working Equitation so that it continues to be a community her and Sienna can be proud of being a part of.

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