The Door Cracks Open / My first encounter with Tom

Tom, Chrypton and me… early on Carmel Valley


This was a lesson for me in understanding how vital it is to be ready to learn something. I have a tendency not to hear or see something unless I am ready for it.

“Tom actually rode my horses. First of all, he helped me with the one that bucked me off. To me it was incredible what he did. It was amazing. Later he stayed around and I got the horses out. I rode them kind of like I was showing off to Tom a little bit. Which is so embarrassing now because he had the key.

When he rode them, I was just stunned at the way the horses looked with him. When I saw that I thought, that’s the way I want to ride. That’s what I want my horses to be like. That’s what I thought dressage was; what Tom was doing. The horses were up and light and free looking, and in a beautiful roundness from hind feet to nose.

He was an incredible rider. Amazing. He was doing flying changes on the Thoroughbred that none of my dressage instructors, who were some pretty well known ones, could get.

I had seen him work in the past with some wild Mustangs, and I just think you have to be in the right spot, you have to be ready for something before you actually see it. When I watched him work with the Mustangs I thought that was pretty neat, but I didn’t think it would apply to me and my riding.

Fortunately, the next time I saw him and he was helping me, I saw that not only did it apply to me, my riding, but I just had to have that. If I was going to go on and work with horses I couldn’t continue on the way I was, even though I hadn’t realized that I was on the wrong track. Once I saw Tom, I realized there was another path. It didn’t matter what the breed of horse, every horse would just change the way they moved, and the way they carried themselves. He would calm their minds just from the work.

This essay is slightly reworded but taken from an interview of me by Holly Clanahan in America’s Horse