Many horse lovers dream of someday having a child who will share that natural love for all things equestrian.
Ellen’s face lights up when she talks about her experience growing up around horses. Her mother tells me that her daughter was chomping at the bit to start riding at the young age of 5. They would visit a nearby barn, lead her around on lesson horses, and let her help with chores. Ellen remembers “loving everything about it.”
Ellen began formal lessons at age 7, and she hasn’t stopped since; she is now a competitive saddle seat rider. She has been showing since age 8, and in 2015 finished in the top ten in the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation division at the Morgan Grand National and World Championships.
Even more than her showing success, Ellen treasures the friendships and life lessons she has learned through riding. She admits that competition has pushed her to challenge herself, but that many of her competitors are friends first and foremost.
“We’re excited for each other’s victories and seek each other out for help and advice,” she explains, adding that the older girls at the barn embraced her like a sister over the years. That loyal camaraderie is hard to find outside of the barn.
Horse Shows as a Family Affair
Being an equine enthusiast herself, Lynette has always understood and encouraged her daughter’s love of horses. She rode informally throughout her childhood and young adulthood, and once her daughter’s interest was sparked, her own commitment took off. She also rides and shows Morgans, often traveling right along with her daughter to various shows, though they compete in separate divisions.
The Erchuls not only attend shows as a family (where Ellen’s dad can usually be found recording his wife and daughter on video), but they also spend ample quality time together at the barn, enjoying a bareback ride together on their treasured Morgan horse, Leader, at Hardwood Creek Farm in Minnesota.
Part of the Barn Family
Lynette notes that a positive barn atmosphere has been crucial to sticking with riding and committing to the hard work that showing requires. She and Ellen both respect and admire the owners of Hardwood Creek, Colleen and Lyle Wick. When they talk about the Wicks and their daughter, accomplished rider Alyssa Wick, it’s clear that they don’t just see them as trainers–they are part of an extended family.
“They really care about what they do,” Lynette notes. “We completely trust them.”
Ellen adds that going to the barn helps her de-stress from the pressures of high school; it’s the highlight of her week. And she doesn’t just ride. She helps care for the horses and takes on barn chores. Doing so not only significantly helps cut riding and showing costs, but it has also helped Ellen gain a sense of confidence that clearly show when she speaks so passionately about her responsibilities there.
“It brings joy to my life,” she exclaims, smiling ear to ear.
Neither mother nor daughter see their love of horses slowing down anytime soon. Ellen is going to college in the fall and plans on majoring in Equine Studies and business. She dreams of becoming a barn manager or assistant trainer. Lynette continues to ride and show the horses they care so much about.
For this happy mother daughter duo, horses have clearly been the glue solidifying a lifelong bond between them.
Julia Arnold is a writer living in
Minnesota with her husband and two young children. She has always loved
horses and is thrilled to have officially rejoined the horse world as an
adult. She rides whenever she can at Hardwood Creek Farm in Hugo,
Minnesota. You can follow her adventures in riding and parenting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.