A Lifelong Love of Horses

Liz Austin


Horses have been part of Liz Austin's life since the beginning and she has never regretted having them in her life. "I wake up every day and think to myself, 'Really? I get paid to do this? How is that possible?' I will say that I love learning about each and every horse's personality and mannerisms and I'm sure that is why I'll never complain about the hours spent on, grooming, or just caring for a horse."

Liz refers to her riding career not as a profession, but as a passion. "A day off is wonderful. A vacation to some far-off land is very relaxing. But for me, the best days are the days that have horses in them. I love visiting with all the horses on my day off, making sure they’re having a nice day off, too – enjoying some extra turnout. Maybe I’ll sneak them some extra hay or taking them out for a nice meandering hand walk. Those are the best days."

Liz got her first pony when she was a year-and-a-half – a 9-hand white pony of unknown breeding (although she thinks there was some hippopotamus in there). Unfortunately, Mrs. B wasn't broke to ride, so many of their outings had some unintentional aerial acrobatics. Except for bucking Liz off 75 percent of the time and running her through a few fences, she was a wonderful pony.
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"Hey, 9 hands isn't such a long fall!" Liz joked. "I still remember when I was seven or eight, trying to teach her how to piaffe in hand. She wasn't too keen on learning to piaffe (which probably had something to do with the fact that I knew nothing about in-hand work) and thought levading was more fun, so she just became our resident Lipizzaner, instead."

For Liz, the real joy in working with horses is developing a relationship. She takes great pleasure in getting to know her horses better than anyone else. Her specialty does not lie within a particular movement, or type of horse or rider, but rather in her ability to create a strong bond with any horse, and instill this sense of respect for horses in her students and peers.

Liz on Olivier with working student Emilee Clark and Hierarch Photo: Betsy Nye
Liz on Olivier with working student Emilee Clark and Hierarch Photo: Betsy Nye

"I remember when I was 15 and I first started riding Hierarch. At the time I was still riding my first ‘love’ American Pie as well, and thought I would never have the same relationship with another horse ever again (like I had with Pie). It took some time, but Hierarch became just as dear to me as Pie. When I moved from Hierarch to Fizzy, I worried about the same thing. Little did I know that I would become Fizzy's just as much as he would become mine. He is such an outgoing, charismatic horse that our partnership really shines through in the stable and under saddle. As one of my friends put it, 'You know, when you pat him when he does something well, he just beams.' I know a lot of people talk about that once-in-a-lifetime horse and talent-wise, Fizzy will certainly be up there in my life, but for me developing a relationship with a horse outside of the competition ring, outside of riding, is just as important. I want my horses to smile when they see me come in the barn and not just look at me as the person who rides them, but as someone they can trust and relate to."

Liz believes the most wonderful thing about horses is that when they trust you, they will give you as much as you give them. "I think, and hope, that as long as I am willing to put in the time to learn about each horse's personality, that I will continue to be amazed by what they have to offer, both on their backs and off," she said.

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