- FEI Dressage Rider, Trainer, Instructor and Author
Barbara’s love of horses started at home. “My mother loved horses; it’s all her fault,” Barbara comments jokingly. “When I was three or four my parents moved us out to the country – from Rockville to Darnestown, Maryland. It’s pretty close to D.C. and was considered the beginning of the country back then.” At that time, the Strawsons had four acres and everyone in the family of five enjoyed horses and riding.
Barbara is the youngest of three girls and was bitten the worst by the horse bug. “I never had a pony. My first horse was an appaloosa mare that I shared with my mom. We did mostly pleasure riding and 4-H. I took my first lesson at the age of 9 on an appaloosa mare that my mother and I shared. But a 15.1 hand Connemara gelding was the first horse who was all mine.” Barbara leased him while her appy mare was in foal.
Barbara remembers fondly what lengths the family went to in order to maximize the time they had with their horses. “We would sneak out of church with Dad, and he would run back to finish up his deacon duties.”
Her first instructor led her to dressage. Barbara recalls the focus of those first few lessons being primarily balanced seat. “My horse at the time – a Connemara – was very strong so we didn’t do a lot of jumping.”