Go Columbia

5 MINUTES WITH trainer and horse lover Holly Vernell

Holly Vernell.
Holly Vernell.

Lil' Nas X's song 'Old Town Road' has been the longest lasting song at number one on the billboard charts hitting over 17 weeks. As a result, the country-rap offering has a new generation of young kids wanting to learn how to ride a horse. For the equestian lovers in Columbia, we speak to trainer and horse lover Holly Vernell who sits down and tells us about lessons she offers and advice for first timers.

For the people that don't know you, tell us about yourself.

While I was born in California, I am a native of Eastover, South Carolina where I grew up on a horse farm and learned to ride. I served in the Air Force, have a degree in Human Resource Management and dabbled in the corporate world post-military, but the Equestrian life has always been my calling. I am a mother to the brightest of lights, my amazing daughter. I love to read, and have a deep interest in all types of music.

Where did the passion for horses come from? How long have you been riding?

I began riding as a very small child, my passion for horses is God-given. That’s really the only way I can describe it, due to the depth and nature of my love for all of the work and detailed tasks associated with their care. I even love cleaning stalls, a statement that is often received with surprise! I view it through a lens of gratitude. They give us so much of themselves, and often the experiences we receive with them are therapeutic, translating into self-confidence and strengthened character. So in return, it’s my responsibility to ensure their health, happiness, comfort, and safety. I feel very blessed to be able to love and care for such amazing animals.

Riding a horse is on my bucket list and I plan to come to you for lessons. What pieces of advice can you give for first timers?

Be confident in yourself and know that there is nothing to be afraid of. Trust that your instructor has your safety as their number one priority. While it’s always important to be vigilant around horses, my job is to ensure that your experience is enjoyable, educational, and most importantly, safe. I would never put anyone on a horse or in a situation with a horse that wasn’t safe for their experience level.

Preach Jacobs, special to GoColumbia