Alyssa Hicks

When Alyssa started riding at age 11, she had pretty simple aspirations; She wanted to be a champion barrel racer. She started out taking bi weekly western riding lessons until at age 13 her family moved outside of the city on 3 acres. With horse space suddenly on hand, Alyssa worked hard to save a few hundred dollars which she combined with some money from her grandmother to equal a whopping $900. It would be the perfect amount, as it turned out for Freedom, a 3 year old AQHA filly, for sale at a local horse trader’s.  It was love at first sight for Alyssa.AlyssaFreedom

Freedom loved showing off her various tricks, such as rearing every time she reached the end of the dirt pen she was being ridden in. Lucky for her, Alyssa’s parents were new to horses and a few days later, a truck and trailer was borrowed and Freedom came home. Unfortunately, she also turned out to have come down with strangles shortly after arriving home. Given that Alyssa’s agreement with her parents included her paying for all Freedom’s bills EXCEPT emergency vet care, it all ended up working out fine for her financially. Her parents probably have a less favorable view of this little hiccup, particularly her father, who was saddled with the task of giving Freedom her daily penicillin shots. Freedom recovered and the two spent the next several years galloping bareback through fields, jumping ditches, and attending natural horsemanship clinics.

freedomWaterFreedom was the quintessential horse love of Alyssa’s life, spending much of her time as a family pet wandering around the back yard and occasionally sneaking into the house.

Most of their time was spent riding without a saddle or bridle, so neither of them claimed any particular riding discipline, until, that is, the two went off to college.  Both Alyssa and Freedom traveled 900 miles across the country to attend Judson College. There, Alyssa joined the Western Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team, but after a semester of riding Hunt Seat, deciding she just had to join that team as well. She decided Freedom should also make the switch, and added an all purpose English saddle to their wardrobe, and started to exchange roll backs for half passes.

freedomWhile at college, Alyssa decided she would need somewhere to spend her summers not too far away to be sure that Freedom could come as well, and joined Camp Illahee’s riding staff in North Carolina. Every summer now included traveling 6 hours to live up in the mountains for 3 months, and Alyssa found that she truly adored teaching riding lessons, especially to children.  Freedom, always one to earn her keep, also joined the staff as a camp lesson horse. While Freedom worked on learning how to not expend too much energy in beginner lessons, Alyssa started to learn the ins and outs of teaching kids of all different levels how to be kind, attentive riders.

canterCollectedWhen she graduated college, she knew she wanted to continue in her work with horses more than anything else. The pair spent a year working at a Grand Prix show jumping barn, and deciding that while they certainly loved well kept facilities, that Alyssa would like somewhere with a little more attention given to ground work and better understanding of the horses psyche, and Freedom would prefer somewhere with a little more turn out. Consequently, after another summer in North Carolina, the pair moved to a smaller lesson barn with a program that was ready to grow with them.

AlyssaAndChildHere, Alyssa got to really spend time doing what she really loved, teaching everyone from 2-70 years old how to ride. Freedom was also allowed not only never ending turn out, but a stall with a fan and as many blankets as she could dream of. For the next 4 years, the two would spend their time in the Hunter/Jumper world. Both of them took riders from lead line to 3’ jumpers into the show ring on a regular basis. Somewhere during this time, a few 3 day event shows were attended and that’s where the dressage came in…

While nothing like the thrill of jumping, it had a different feeling to it. A distinctly connected, close contact sort of riding reminiscent of their bareback days. The two of them instantly fell in love with the sport, and Alyssa decided that in bringing along her untrained rescue TB that she would enlist the assistance of a friend who had recently started training after gaining her bronze, silver, and gold USDF medals.

Dressage was so alluring, that when Texas came calling, Alyssa went on the search for a barn that would have access to a dressage trainer. Just by luck, she happened to find one not only deeply embedded in dressage, but also acutely in tune with genuinely listening to their horses’ wants and needs. Figuring that was the sort of place both she and Freedom could thoroughly enjoy, Alyssa moved to Austin, TX to join the Balance Point Equestrian Center team.  Ever grateful for an opportunity to teach, train, and continue to further her own understanding of her favorite enigma – the horse!

Joining in the Halloween Fun at the Balance Point
Joining in the Halloween Fun at the Balance Point

 

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An Exploration of Harmony & Horses