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Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Charli Alayna sitting on a horse with a white blaze
The first time I ever sat on a horse was when I was 15

If you know my story, you know I didn't grow up in a family who had a ranch or anything like that. So I had to make my own way into the western industry. I think in a way it made me more grateful because it was hard work. But a lot of people who are in a similar situation ask me how I did it.

So where did I start?

In a very short answer, Facebook.

Yes, you read that right. Facebook as in the social media platform, Facebook. There are SO many good groups to join when you're trying to get into any kind of western related industry. Agriculture/farming, horseback riding, veterinary care. You name it, it's there. I was able to make my entrance into the local horse owners community and learn from some really awesome people that way. It takes humility since a lot of these people have been doing it their whole life and are 2nd and 3rd generation farmers, ranchers, etc.

For me, I started out by cleaning out horse stalls. It's not the most glamorous job, but what job in the western industry is all that glamours either. I actually enjoy cleaning stalls and not that its a hard job, but I had previously gotten some experience from all the times I would escape to friends houses in rural WA.

Horse sniffing girls shirt
One of the horses at the barn I first worked at

The barn I worked at was an amazing place to start out at and I absolutely loved who I was working for. She was able to teach me so much in the short amount of time that I worked there and she never belittled me for not knowing something. Once I was able to establish a relationship with her, she introduced me to other people in the community. That was how I found my horse lease.

Now, I did have a handful of riding experience in my pocket. But I didn't have that much. I had always been told I was a natural and picked it up well so I was more comfortable in leasing a horse than someone might who's never been on a horse at all. Still, I did my research on how to be safe and made sure me and the horse I was going to be riding was beginner safe.

Most of the time when you lease a horse, you pay monthly to use the horse and you can only ride them certain days, yada yada yada. Theres a bunch of rules that come with it. But in my case, the owner of the horse was pregnant and she needed someone to be able to exercise her mare until she had her babe. So thats where I came in. Since she wasn't riding her at all, I didn't have to worry about having to coordinate what days I could ride her. I was able to head to the barn whenever I felt like it. She payed for her feed and stall, and I gave her all the love and attention that I had been wanting to give a horse for years.

I learned so much from caring for Maggie. She taught me patience and how to read horses emotions. I also learned so much about saddling up myself, what different tack was used for what, and the proper grooming of horses. She definitely jump started my riding abilities.

Black and white paint horse and cowgirl
Maggie, the first horse I ever leased

These days I'm still leasing horses. It just didn't make much sense for us to buy our own horses just yet when every ranch hiring has their own. I was able to talk with the owner of the ranch that me and my husband work for, and they're more than happy to let us take the horses out after work.

At the end of the day, you don't have to have the perfect circumstances to make your dreams a reality. My mother always told me that, "You can't wait for the perfect circumstance. You have to create it yourself." and I 100% agree with that.

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