I was born and lived my first 15 years in the mountains east of San Diego, California. My parents put me on my first pony at an amusement park when I was 3 years old, and it all progressed from there. Neither of my parents was really a horse person, but- fortunately for me - my grandfather started taking me to the horse races at Del Mar when I was 5 years old and so began my love of Thoroughbreds and racing. My family got our first horses when I was about 7 years old, and we were the typical first time horse owners that horse traders see coming a mile away. Our first 4 horses, actually 2 ponies and 2 horses, taught me a ton about horses and the handling of them mainly because they all had problems of one sort or another. Boy, did we learn a lot from that first herd!
When I was 10, my parents, owners of a carpet store, went to a house for a carpeting appointment. Standing on the front porch to greet them was a horse. They ended up with the carpet job, and I ended up with Gabe, a 20 something buckskin gelding who was my best friend and teacher over the next 4 years. Gabe was one of those horses that every parent dreams of for their kids, a wonderful baby sitter who was also an outstanding teacher. As my riding skills and confidence improved, so did Gabe's athletic ability and willingness to perform. Gabe and I did it all--competitive trail rides, jumping, western pleasure riding, gymkhanas; you name it, we did it, and as I outgrew him and moved on to younger, less trained horses, Gabe was still a perfect horse for all of my friends who came over and wanted to ride but didn't really know how. Gabe would revert back to the old "go nowhere fast, do nothing wrong" horse that taught me so much.
When I was 13 I got my first true show horse, and there began my love of retraining and regaining the confidence of the abused horse. Ebony appeared the perfect gentleman when we went to look at him prior to purchasing him. He was as push button as you could want and gorgeous besides, and his owner cried all the appropriate tears when she talked about selling him, but after we ended up buying him and got him back to the barn from where I was taking lessons, push button Ebony turned out to be a mess disguised in a gorgeous seal bay coat. He had a deadly fear of horse shoers, men, having his head or ears touched, cross ties (restraint of any kind would send him through the roof), and a list of other troubles a mile long, all of which were none of his fault. Ebony became my project horse and after 18 months of one on one work, and a lot of patience, I got him to where as long as I was handling him, he was willing to be, if not willing, at least cooperative. I never did get him over his fear of cross ties, but he would stand with a traditional tie with only minor fidgeting. I no longer had to take the bridle apart to put it on, he would stand for the horse shoer, and men would be tolerated, if not actually liked. This experience with Ebony taught me the joy and accomplishment of regaining a horse's trust, and has become the basis with which I approach the training and handling of horses to this day. A horse that trusts its handler can work through almost any scary situation with that handler, no matter what or where it presents itself.
After my family moved to Montana when I was 15, I became very involved in 4-H. The training projects were my favorites, but I also enjoyed the showing of the older horses. During this time I also accomplished my life long dream of owning a Thoroughbred mare which had started back with those summer trips with my grandfather to Del Mar. From those 4-H projects and my first Thoroughbred broodmare, Shining Mountain Thoroughbreds has evolved into the Thoroughbred breeding farm and boarding, training, lay-up and rehabilitation center it is today.