Q: What makes Horse Nation awesome? A: The equestrian enthusiasts who call it home. We’re profiling some of HN’s most interesting citizens in this new series by Jennifer Ferrell.
When your parents are both horse people and their first meeting was in a stable, it seems that any offspring are genetically predisposed to become a horse person. That’s exactly how it worked out for Andrea Harris.
She was two years old the first time she sat on a horse and, by four, was riding her first pony, Hubba. On Hubba, she rode in her first horse show, did her first posting trot and took her first unscheduled dismount. He also liked to bite anything within reach, including Andrea. She says she didn’t remember the bites, only the fun times. Something she calls, “an early (and convenient) case of cowgirl amnesia.”
Young Andrea taking a ride, Nov. 3, 1973
Andrea and Hubba, Feb. 10, 1976
Her parents started an Arabian breeding farm in Statesville, NC, and growing up on the farm Andrea saw the reality of working with horses to earn a living. She realized then that all the work involved could possibly take the fun out of the pastime so she chose to take a professional path away from horses.
While there hasn’t always been a specific horse in Andrea’s life through the years, she has managed to keep herself involved in some form of equine pursuit. In college, she was a member of the university horse judging team; during her time in Dallas, she volunteered at a therapeutic riding facility; and when she moved to Los Angeles, she found a barn at which to take riding lessons. Now living just outside of Washington, DC, Andrea has gotten back into the saddle on a chestnut quarter horse named Gary.
One might imagine the Maryland horse scene as being full of foxhunters, eventers or hunter/jumpers, but it was at a weekly team penning event held at Gray Rock Ranch in Boyds, MD where Andrea first met Gary and his owner, Alan. For over a year, she would show up each Saturday night and between rides, groom Gary, walk him and as she says, “generally gush over him.” Alan let Andrea get her start team penning on his other horse, Duke, and soon the four of them would team up.
For Andrea, team penning was an adrenaline rush. She says, “I’ve never experienced more of a team feeling with a horse as when Duke and I worked in a herd. I wish everyone could try it at least once, to know how it feels.”
Saturday night team penning eventually evolved into Andrea signing on to lease Duke. Later, when Duke was sold, Andrea switched to ride and lease Gary. While they no longer team pen, most weekends, you’ll find Andrea and Gary riding the trails near the C&O canal in Potomac, MD. Of her relationship with Gary, Andrea says,”He’s taught me a lot about relaxing and at being more precise and deliberate with my movements in the saddle. We click.”
Andrea & Gary on Gary’s 21st birthday in May of 2010
That doesn’t mean she’s not up for trying new things. Last year, on a whim, she purchased a Living Social coupon for a polo lesson at The Capital Polo Club and spent one afternoon with two friends learning the ins and outs of the game. She says that the polo lesson and the mini-polo match they played at the end of the lesson was the most fun thing she’s ever done on a horse.
“I giggled the entire time,” she says. “I don’t think I could regularly play without hurting myself, though.”
A few years ago, Andrea’s parents sold their farm and moved to Phoenix, AZ. When she visits over the holidays, weather permitting, they all go for a trail ride in the desert. This past Christmas, they went to Suguaro Lake Resort for their ride.
Andrea says she loves that her parents are still up for horsey adventures. Andrea likely will too. It’s in her genes.
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