Thank you for having a look at my experience with horses. I truly have been around the world on the back of a horse.
- At 9 years old, I met three horses while riding my bike. I introduced myself to the owners and began spending time with the horses and eventually taking care of them.
With Indy, a kitten, the owner, and Timmy in the background.
- At age 13, I began working at a livery stable, taking out trail rides.
- I bought “Iroquois” with my paper route money and put him to work as my lead horse in exchange for his board. I joined 4-H with him and The Pony Club.
Iroquois and me preparing to go into the 4-H show ring at the LaPorte County Fair in Indiana.
- I took lessons in eventing, and evented my next horse, Panache, an OTTB*, for 4 years. I studied dressage for 8 years before riding race horses. *OTTB is short for an Off-Track Thoroughbred, aka, retired race horse.
Janice L. Blake and “Panache” in a dressage test at St. James Farm in Illinois.
- Wanting to go to the track and ride race horses, I was actively discouraged by just about everyone, so I attended Purdue University on campus for 2 years studying Animal Husbandry and Biomechanics.
- Taking a year off studying at Purdue and learning to exercise Thoroughbred race horses in the greater Chicagoland area was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.
- I met Tom Poulin, a dressage teacher, and studied dressage that year as well.
Tom Poulin in Germany.
- Returning to school, I transferred to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH.
- I met a woman in Yellow Springs, OH who ran a dressage and event barn, and rode there.
Nancy Kelley with a “rein horse.”
- Graduated with a BS in Pre-Veterinary Medicine from Antioch College.
- Accepted a position to ride and school upper-level dressage in Ontario, Canada with renowned dressage master, Walter Zettl, from Germany.
Walter Zettl in Piaffe in Ontario, Canada.
- Moved to Chicago and worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in a lab off the ICU.
- I also worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Chicago.
- Took a job as a chauffeur in the evenings.
With Mary Tyler Moore
- Finally gravitated to Sportsman’s Park and began galloping horses in the morning before driving the limo at night.
- Galloped horses for Noel Hickey at Hawthorne Race Course and then at Arlington Park.
- Got my first Jock’s License at Arlington Park. Earlie Fires taught me to break from the gate.
- Took an offer to go to Keeneland to exercise two Stakes horses from Arlington Park.
- Took another offer to gallop sale babies for Eddie Woods at Classic Mile in Ocala, FL.
- Gravitated to Tampa Bay Downs and won my first race on Friendly Goose.
- Won 2 races that year.
- Went to Maryland and got a job with Dickie Small for the summer.
- Returned to Tampa Bay Downs the next year and won 5 more races. My “bug” had started.
Took a break from riding and got a job galloping babies for D. Wayne Lukas in Summerfield, FL.
- In the summer of 1999, I went to Belmont Park to gallop for D. Wayne Lukas until the Meadowlands opened in New Jersey.
- Took out my Jock’s License in the Fall and rode the Meadowlands and Aqueduct with my bug that winter.
- Went to Monmouth Park for the summer, then back to Aqueduct for the winter again.
- Moved my tack to Philadelphia Park and rode the various tracks in that area: Atlantic City, Belmont Park, Charles Town, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Finger Lakes, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Mountaineer, Penn National, Pimlico, Presque Isle Downs, and Saratoga.
- During this time, riding at tracks up and down the East Coast, I was invited to participate in several Female Jockey Challenges. Two years each at Hoosier Park in Indiana and Philadelphia Park in Pennsylvania.
- Then I was invited to Brazil to participate in their Ladies Day Tournament for each of 4 years. I finished second in 2013.
- Since then I have lived and ridden mostly in New York. I love New York!