About Horse Rookie

Long-time horse lover, first-time horse owner.

Welcome to Horse Rookie, a site dedicated to helping equestrians of all levels (especially beginners) answer common questions, make informed decisions, and have more fun with their horses. It’s the kind of resource I wish I’d had when I finally purchased my first horse.

This is a welcoming community for all disciplines, ages, and skill levels—a place where all equestrians (and aspiring equestrians!) can come to find information written by 100+ real riders.

Our authors live across the country, keep horses at home or board them, show or just ride for fun, and do dressage to stadium jumping, eventing to trail riding, working equitation to reining, and every discipline in between.

We understand the ups and downs of horse ownership. We know how much money (and time) it costs. We understand the sleepless nights, unparalleled excitement, and simple joys horses bring to our lives. We are our readers.

We want you to feel more educated, prepared, safe, and empowered to pursue your unique goals. There are no “know it alls” here. We are ALL continuing to learn and grow as horse enthusiasts!

Founder Nicole’s Story

Though I hoped for a horse under the Christmas tree every year, like many little girls, my parents stuck to their party line: there are plenty of horses to ride — for cheap. Now, as a horse owner who sees the dollars evaporate from her bank account at lightening speed, I get it.

So I spent the next 25+ years in the saddle riding other people’s horses for lessons, trail rides, horse camps, and horsey yoga retreats. (Yep, it’s a thing.) Once I graduated business school and dove into my career with a fast-paced startup, horses went on the back burner.

For almost a decade.

I hadn’t lost my love for horses. My passion simply went dormant while other aspects of life grew in importance.

But, as with all true equestrians, I couldn’t stay away. After going on a handful of horseback riding vacations, I came home infected by the horse bug once again.

Fast forward to my early thirties when I stuffed my belongings (and a very vocal hound dog) into my car and headed west. I landed in Montana, a breathtaking and magical place teeming with horses. #somebodypinchme

Finally, at the age of 33, I bought a horse of my own. I was nervous, worried about making mistakes, and more than a little rusty. Even though I’d been riding since I was six, I entered the wide world of horse ownership feeling like a total rookie.

Everyone knows what it’s like to feel like a horse rookie, and knowledge is the best remedy.


The learning curve has been steep, but buying a horse was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Whether you’re new to horses, grew up with them on your property, actually found a horse under your Christmas tree (#envious), or have owned horses for decades, there’s always more to learn. The team of equestrian experts at Horse Rookie is here to help.

I spend most of my time out at the barn with my herd  Rem (17 yo AQHA gelding), Jax (9 yo Azteca), and Bug (2 yo Mini Appy) practicing dressage, eventing, stadium jumping, cutting, reining, trail riding, or cow work. When I’m not out riding, I work as a freelance marketer, writer, and riding clinic coordinator.

Ground Manners

Good ground manners are critical. No one wants to be around a horse that bites, kicks, puts its ears back, or otherwise causes havoc. The same goes for Horse Rookie readers. We exist for equestrians who love to learn, don’t have all the answers, and actively work to better themselves and the broader horse community.

  • Open Gate: Horse Rookie is a home for ALL equestrians — all races, ages, disciplines, genders, sexual orientations, skill levels, and breeches sizes. This is a safe space, and bullying, negativity, and “ears back” behavior is not tolerated.
  • Open Mind: We believe every equestrian can learn more, and this site is for those with open minds who are hungry for knowledge. (Know-it-alls can keep on trotting!)
  • Open Mic: This is a community, and we celebrate and welcome different voices. If you’d like to write for us, we’d love to hear from you.
  • Open Book: Everyone makes mistakes, and that doesn’t make us bad or unworthy equestrians. We are open about mistakes, lessons learned, and stories about how to move forward.
  • Open Road: We’re always working on new ideas to serve our readers and help them have better experiences with their horses. Wherever the road takes us, we’re honored to have you along for the ride!

Lesson Partners

You know that feeling when you get paired with the perfect lesson partner, and everything about riding gets more fun? That’s how I feel about the small-yet-mighty team at Horse Rookie.

john ross

John Ross, Content Editor

Hunts for typos, formatting errors, and broken links. Works for pastries.

John is a retired professor living his best life in the mountains of Montana. He traded in his academic writing quill to serve as editor for Horse Rookie. Thanks to 30+ years as an equestrian in his own right (dressage), he loves the subject matter and helping our readers boost their equine know-how. (He also happens to be my dad!)

blm burro moon and handler

Content manager Susanna & her BLM Burro, Moon

Passionate about writing, systems, donkeys, and horses (of course!).

Horses are Susanna’s first love, but donkeys are a close second. She grew up horse-crazy, self-funding her hobby (obsession?) by working at a local barn. Susanna competed in 4-H Horse & Pony on a borrowed Paint mare, then got her horse fix by riding on her college equestrian team.

As an adult, she has ridden and shown Quarter Horses for 12+ years, including several top 10 placings at the Quarter Horse Congress. Her favorite classes are equitation and ranch riding, although she is learning to love showmanship as well.

Susanna also worked for 7 years at a leading horse feed company, so she’s passionate about equine health and nutrition.

In addition to her Quarter Horse Mare, Ginger, Susanna is also the proud (and sometimes perplexed) mama of two adopted BLM donkeys. Training them has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience of her equine career!

woman with warmblood horse

Social Media & Outreach Expert Kelsey with Dino

Social media specialist & outreach expert.

Like many young girls, Kelsey fell in love with horses at an early age. Her parents signed her up for horseback riding lessons and there was no turning back. Much to the dismay of her parent’s bank account, that love for horses only grew.

Kelsey’s whole life changed when her parents purchased her first horse at her thirteenth birthday. She spent the next several years riding and competing on the paint horse circuit. It was truly one of the best times of her life. When it came time to go off to college, she knew she had to put my horse dreams on hold. Kelsey spent the next ten years hoping and wishing that one day horses would be a part of her life again. 

A few years after graduating college, Kelsey started the journey of finding a horse and a trainer. Fast forward a couple of years and she has found her dream barn and heart horse. It took some saving and sacrifices, but now she understands how her parents felt!

Kelsey considers herself lucky to have found a handsome 14 year old warmblood gelding who allows her to compete on the hunter/jumper circuit. Although it pushes her out of my comfort zone at times, she wouldn’t trade this for the world!

When she is not spending time with Dino, Kelsey works as a freelance writer and social media coordinator. 

woman wearing helmet with horse

Email Marketing Expert Michelle

Email marketing expert & content creator. 

Michelle spent most of her childhood around horses and Pony Club. In college, she competed with her school’s IHSA Equestrian team and even worked at a local tack store to help pay for her tuition.

She returned to riding after a ten-year hiatus in 2018 to find some work-life balance and has loved every minute of being back in the saddle. She competes in the hunters with her school-master lease horse and has just jumped (get it?) into the world of young horses with her worst/best idea to date–buying a yearling named Cooper. 

woman wearing helmet and bay horse face

Content Writer & Equine Expert Nicky with Pandamonium

Content creation specialist & product review genius.

Nicky started falling off ponies when she was just six years old and is still doing it on a far too regular basis 40 years later. She’s so keen on falling off that her dream is to enter the Mongol Derby, where she would get the opportunity to fall off three different ponies a single day!

When she does manage to stay in the saddle, Nicky loves long-distance challenges and participates in extreme trails, complete with rock-climbing and river crossings, competitive trail rides, and endurance rides whenever possible. The rest of the time, she potters around the South African countryside on her fat pony, Sherlock, or her slightly less podgy Percheron-cross, Pandamonium.

Having grown up in the UK, Nicky competed in every possible discipline, from gymkhana to showjumping, but now focuses her energies on holistic horse care, using homemade, herbal treatments whenever appropriate, and continuously honing her abilities as a barefoot trimmer. One of her least favorite challenges is dealing with a horse with choke, although she does appreciate the impromptu shower on a hot summer’s day!

When she’s not tacking up or falling off, Nicky types like a demon, producing what she hopes are insightful and informative articles. With over 40 years’ experience, she may not be a horse rookie in the traditional sense, but like any self-respecting equestrian, she also recognizes you can never know enough. Every new piece of information is another tool in your horsey toolbox – and you can never have too many.

Nicky brings a unique perspective to Horse Rookie, having cared for horses in both the UK and South Africa, where the challenges are persistent and life-threatening. She hopes to share her wealth of experience with you, our readers, bringing valuable insights into horse welfare, equipment, and the best way to fall off a pony!

black and white portrait photo of woman

Content creator, Natalie

Content creation expert in all things equine.

It was love at first for Natalie on her first day of pony camp at age five. While her parents hoped she would outgrow horses, she never did. The bug officially bit at age 12, when she spent more time at the barn than at home.

Pony camp turned into summer riding camp, which turned into weekly lessons, and eventually, into her first lease. Known around the barn as “I can’t,” Icon and Natalie became inseparable. Natalie and Icon did a little bit of everything, from summer Fun Shows to trail riding to low-level dressage and even a bit of Western!

After a nearly debilitating abscess that lasted two months, Natalie, through the daily care and rehabilitation of that injury, realized Icon was her heart horse. He passed away due to one of his many health issues in 2018. She misses him every day.

Natalie has often been a magnet for “problem horses.” Over the years, she’s trained a partially (and later fully) blind Appaloosa, a horse with stifle lameness, and a severely abused Warmblood mare with a suspensory injury, to name a few. While all these horses were a challenge, Natalie wouldn’t trade her time with them for anything.

When she’s not training or rehabbing horses, Natalie spends her time writing horse articles and fantasy books and hiking with her two energetic dogs, Lily and Bella.

Ride On!

I still have plenty to learn. Join me.

Happy Trails, 

Nicole R., Founder and Chief Horse Rookie