This week my heart is heavy because one of the people that inspires me has suffered a horrible loss.
Colleen Rutledge is on the top of the list of people that I have met since I moved out east. I knew of Colleen long before I met her, everyone knows her amazing horse Shiraz, her crazy children, her wild russells, and her horse show family, but most people don't know her.
When I first met Colleen it was at Jersey Fresh in 2011, I was there grooming for Laura Vello and Dillon was stabled across from Laura. I actually met Ciana first, she came running up to me with a huge smile on her face jumped in to my arms and was dragging me around introducing me to the animals before she even knew my name. Sallie (Colleen's mom, super groom, and head cheerleader) introduced herself, and in between taking care of the horses, while Colleen was out walking, was trying to convince CiCi that not everyone wanted to be her friend. I was in awe. They were just a great family making it work. That night we went to a dinner that Jersey had and I got to meet her in the flesh. She was hilarious, charismatic, down to earth, and honest. It was humbling and awe inspiring to have an honest candid conversation with a four star rider.
Colleen was interested in my horses and my riding, and offered plenty of advice. By the end of the weekend I felt an instant connection with Colleen because of what our families had been through, since my mother passed away when I was young. Post Jersey, Colleen has helped me in so many ways, she opened up her farm to me and Lena for the training three day at Waredaca, helped me in the ten minute box, gave me the best pep talk ever (multiple times), catch rode a horse for me in his first novice when I was very broken, helped me survive at VaHT when I couldn't even lift a water bucket (and was trying to compete), has given me advice, and some of the best experiences.
They say that people come into your life for a reason and I am positive that my life has been changed for the better since I have met the Rutledge's. Colleen and her family are an inspiration, everyday I will keep them in my thoughts, and feel honored to be a part of their journey.