by Laura Schonberg
This month I spoke with Beth Pruiett about her horse-centered soul; when she’s not wrangling her three young girls, she’s rounding up middle schoolers in her resource room. With three horses at home, a full-time teaching job, and a husband that works crazy shifts, her story inspires a blending of horses with a busy life.
First words that come to mind about horses: Relationship. And freedom. When horseback riding down a beach or climbing mountains—you’re free! My first horse, Rocky, was actually part of my prenup. I have never had a single thought of “Oh, shoot, I’d rather not go to the barn.” In fact, when my dad said he would take the horses home after I had the twins I panicked and totally fell apart. His thinking was, “You have so much to do with three little girls.” My thinking? “I need my horses to keep me sane!”
Horses in my life: I’ve always done horses. Always. I was blessed to have literally grown up on a horse, doing full pack trips on my own pony with my family at the age of four. Rocky, my first real horse when I was 12, challenged everything about my horsemanship. I learned that boundaries, expectations and being fair, along with consistency, built respect (and I horse I could actually ride). And respect builds trust. This truth drives how I teach, and especially how I parent. For now, I’m focused on my kids: building responsibility, love, compassion and horsemanship in the girls. As meaningful as my accomplishments were on my own horse, seeing my girls’ accomplishments multiplies that ten-fold. Recently four-year-old Rylee pitched a fit because she said she was “brave enough” to ride Chocko (the three-year-old halter broke rescue horse). Of course I wouldn’t let her, but I love that she thought she could. In my world that’s a good problem to have!
Frame of mind: My girls and I do a trip every summer on a wagon train– it’s a week hanging out with cowboys on the Oregon Trail. You smell like horse poop, there’s dirt under your nails and you’re wearing three-day-old Wranglers. Last summer, my girls went to day camp right after we got home from the trip. When I picked them up the first day, I had a pony, a mule, and a Quarter Horse head sticking out of the four horse trailer ready to go for a ride. I hopped down from the (still running) diesel truck in full chaps, a cowgirl hat, muddy boots and dirty jeans. The looks I got from the other moms! Not that I change who I am, but sometimes I have to tone it down a little. We look crazy to those that don’t think like horse people. I actually like horse chores; I enjoy mucking stalls in 37 degree dark, rainy weather. I like seeing blisters on my hands after putting hay in and having that deeply satisfied feeling when opening the barn door and seeing feed for the winter. It’s truly a part of who I am.
What I hope for: I never want to let others down. Especially my girls. Someday, my hope is that they recognize and appreciate the power of a horse emotionally and physically. Even if they’re not horsey at heart, and down the road they decide horses aren’t their thing, I hope they take away what they learned from these animals—care, determination, responsibility, compassion, strength.
Advice for others: Recognize there is a season for everything in your life and enjoy the season for what it is. My life right now is so different than it was ten years ago. Now is equally amazing, but in really different ways. That also goes for the horses that we ride. For instance, Rocky set the bar high once we got it all sorted out. Young Tucker is a very different horse, but he brings a lot to the table, too. Appreciate the moment that you’re in, including the people and animals in your life.
Advice for myself: Remember my own advice.
Laura Schonberg works for the Oak Harbor School District. Horses were what grounded her as a child and even as an adult she can’t seem to get enough horse. Now in her 40’s, Laura owns three horses she started herself and pursues several disciplines, including dressage and moving cows.