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One Woman’s Quest to – DISCOVER THE HORSE – by Alyssa Mathews        

In my life so far, I have ridden in 8 different countries and I feel so honored and privileged to call THIS equine community my home. The people here truly care about their horses and about each other. For each of you this support means something different. But for me, it has allowed me to grow and learn as a horse person and is one of the reasons I have been able to start this ambitious project.

I have been riding since before I can remember. In a note about my first ride, my mom explained that I wanted to ride all by myself with no help.  “I love Casper,” I proclaimed as I hugged him. No one in my family was into horses and they had absolutely no idea what they were getting into when they let their little girl exchange house chores for riding lessons.

When I was 5 we noticed several trucks, horse trailers and horses at our local community center. We went up to a man in a cowboy hat and my parents explained my obsession. Luckily for me, Ralph understood my obsession and happened to be afflicted in the same way. The Brush Bustin Trail Riders were a group of cowboys on an annual three day trail ride. They rode about 30 miles each day, camped, and ended up at the PRCA rodeo in Spooner, WI. My parents invited the entire group to camp at our place the following year. We became good friends with Ralph.

Not long after we first met, he had my dad putting up fencing on our property and brought a couple of horses over for us to take care of. One of the mares that he brought was bred, and so began a six-year-old’s first full life course on animal husbandry. It was an experience complete with sleeping in the barn and hourly checks when the due date arrived. I got to be there for the birth. A few days later, the Cowboy Ralph came over to check on the new foal. He asked me if I wanted the little colt to be my first horse. My acceptance was enthusiastic, to say the least. Ralph is 86 years old now. He still rides, drives and farms his land where he keeps 16 horses, two mules, a miniature donkey and lots of sheep.

Throughout my life I have had some very special experiences with unique breeds and the amazing people that have dedicated their lives to these horses. Including:

* Driving, pack trips, breed shows, and Performances at Road to The Horse in Kentucky with the Norwegian Fjords.

* Owning a Little Iron Horse, also known as the Cheval Canadian.

* Riding to my wedding on my Kiger Mustang.

* Crossing Country borders from Slovenia to Italy on the Lipizzaner.

* Working with the Skyrian Pony at a Therapeutic Riding Center in Greece.

* Thanks to local Helen Mleynek, falling in love with an incredible gaited breed – The Icelandic.

My equine love story probably feels familiar to many and it has led me down a unique and exciting path.   In September of 2017 I officially launched my DiscoverTheHorse Quest. I am going to ride and document every breed of horse in the world. There are over 350 breeds. When complete, it is my hope for this to be the largest equine education project of its kind.

With no actual road map, doing something that has never been done before, my goal is to make meaningful and entertaining content.  So I decided to document with video. Ideally, each breed will have videos  featuring something the breed is known for, an impressive example of the breed or a ride in the breed’s country of origin.

For each breed, I put together a quest video and an “about the breed” video.  The quest video takes you on the journey with me and tells the story of my ride. The breed video goes into more detail about the breed features and history. All of the videos can be seen on my Facebook page, Youtube, and my DiscoverTheHorse website. Since the project launch, I have ridden and documented 26 breeds.  My videos have accumulated over one million views on Facebook.  The Irish Draught breed video is the most popular so far with over 250,000 views and counting.  Feel free to join 7,500+ followers on the DiscoverTheHorse Facebook page to come along for the rides.

My most recent quest tour brought me east.  Meeting the horse that played “Hidalgo” in the movie with Viggo Mortensen and going on a ride with an Emmy award winning TV producer were a couple of the highlights.  I am very excited about the future. After planning and thinking about this idea for over a decade, it truly is a dream come true to be doing this. Horses are my passion. Meeting these people and horses all over the world shows that we have a common bond that bring us together in a truly authentic way. If through doing this I can bring awareness to our amazing animals, I know it is what I’m meant to do.

This brings me to you. You have your own story. All of us have one life to live and yet often times we limit ourselves.  There are fears, finances and time. What will people think? In the horse world we often get into debates about training styles, disciplines and philosophies.  These concerns and opinions are valid and they are real, but you would be amazed at what you can do if you decide its okay for people to call you crazy.

I have two challenges for you:

The first one is easy. Go and hug your horse. Thank them for the role they play in your life. If you don’t have a horse right now, a dog, cat or human are reasonable alternatives.  Please don’t hug the elk!

Second, I challenge you to come up with something that you have always wanted to do. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something that is meaningful to you. Take the steps you need to make it happen. And remember to use your amazing horse community that you have right here to help you succeed.

To help contribute financially to Alyssa’s quest, go to: Patreon.com/discoverthehorse

Follow my quest, plus view all breeds documented to date, go to:

Facebook.com/discoverthehorse

Instagram.com/discoverthehorsequest

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