Author Cherry Hill and her mare, Aria. | Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill
How does Cherry Hill do it?
If you are a reader of horse books at all, you know the name–she’s been a horse show judge, trainer, breeder and is the author of more than 1,000 articles and 30 books, including What Every Horse Should Know, Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and 101 Ground Training Exercises for Every Horse & Handler.
Cherry Hill (and Cherry is pronounced “Sherry”) took the time to talk to MyHorse Daily about writing, life on her ranch and the one surprising thing she’s done on horseback.
MyHorse Daily: Where were you born and raised, and how did you get into horses?
Cherry Hill: I was raised in Michigan, and I’ve been into horses all my life. We used to go to Florida every year, and when I was 2 my father made arrangements for my brother and I to get on the back of one of the (Ringling Bros.) Barnum & Bailey horses. I didn’t want to wash my hands for a week.
I didn’t get my own horse until I was in my early 20s–there was not really a place to have one where I grew up–but I rode all through high school. I got a job at a stable and worked for unlimited riding by helping out—I took people out on rides, called being a “pusher” because sometimes the horses didn’t want to go out.
The woman who got me the job was a long-term horsewoman, a bit of a mentor to me. And a lot of times people ask me how to get into horses, and I say, “Find a mentor in your area” Maybe they’re not riding anymore but they have a wealth of experience that is invaluable.
MyHorse Daily: What did you study in college?
Cherry Hill: I got a degree in Animal Science. When I was going to school, Equine Science wasn’t really off the ground yet. I majored in horses, minored in dairy, at Michigan State and Iowa State.
MyHorse Daily: What have you taught?
Cherry Hill: I’ve taught at a few colleges, most recently Colorado State University. I taught Equine Science—training, stable management, behavior.
MyHorse Daily: Where do you live?
Cherry Hill: In northern Colorado. I live on a ranch with my husband–we have 70 acres. It’s a lovely place. It’s a full-time job. We’re always going. Busy, busy, busy.
MyHorse Daily: Where do you find time to write?
Cherry Hill: Some I’ve written on horseback by speaking into a recorder, so I wrote while I was riding.
Some I’ve written in the heat of summer or dead of winter. It does take time and discipline. People think writing is effortless but it does require discipline.
MyHorse Daily: How do you get ideas?
Cherry Hill: Mostly it’s what I’m really into at the time. I think if I’m really interested in it, other horse people will be also. For example, my husband and I used to buy, fix up and sell horse property–that gave me the idea for Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.
Each time I’d do something at home I’d think well, maybe I’ll write about it and save some people some time. Of course training and behavior are always topics people are interested in. I guess write what you love and write what you know and the rest follows. Also, if you’re doing something at the moment, you have the photo opportunity. It will all dovetail together and work.
MyHorse Daily: What kind of horse do you have?
Cherry Hill: Aria is half Quarter Horse and half Trakehner mare that I bred and raised. She’s a real sweet, steady, easygoing kind of girl with comfortable gaits. She’s 15.2, maybe 16. One of the littler ones we have. I call her my chocolate pony, because her disposition is sweet, like a pony. She’s a good girl. More of a western-style horse.
I ride more western now. We are in trail-ride heaven here–we have beautiful places to ride. Western riding is a little more suited to that because of the saddlebags and more comfortable saddle. Although in the arena I prefer to ride dressage.
MyHorse Daily: How many horses do you have now?
Cherry Hill: We just have two horses. Due to the drought and expense of feed we haven’t added to our herd or bred any mares. There’s so many horses to adopt or buy inexpensively. We went from 7 down to 2 just by the fact so many were in their 30s. We will keep those two until we need to replace one. They have a many good years left–Aria is 14 and Sherlock, (her husband) Richard’s horse, is 11.
MyHorse Daily: What about the rest of the pack?
Cherry Hill: We have a Maine Coon cat. She’s a good mouser and great companion. We also have two rottweilers about a year and a half old. Got them at 6 weeks. They’re named Bear and Bandit. Fabulous dogs. They’ve learned about horses and all the other animals and boundaries. They’re really good dogs and our constant companions. I keep saddle blankets on the floor next to my desk for them.
MyHorse Daily: What are you working on now?
Cherry Hill: I’m not working on a book right now–I just had one come out last year and wanted to take a break.
MyHorse Daily: Which of your books are your favorites?
MyHorse Daily: What’s some of your best advice?
Cherry Hill: Don’t forget the reason you got into it is because you really love the horse. People get sidetracked on competition or property.
Enjoy that experience of interacting with and taking good care of your horse. That’s one of the reasons I quit judging—some of the competition people had forgotten about that, and were interested more in the superficial aspect and achieving goals, sometimes at the expense of the horse.
Another piece: Just do the best job you can taking care of your horse and understanding why they do what they do. Figure out how to keep your horse happy, healthy and safe.
MyHorse Daily: Any advice for folks who are trying to keep horses in their life as they age?
Cherry Hill: I think mostly it’s being aware—everybody’s different—but be aware of what causes you to slow down. You have to be your own doctor, so to speak. Take the responsibility to take care of your own body. So once you find out your weak links-for example, your knees hurt after a long ride—adjust your stirrups or don’t ride so much of a posting trot. Adjust yourself accordingly.
You do just get more stiff as you get old. Horses get arthritis, too. If you’re a real active rider like I’ve been, your body parts are gonna wear out.
MyHorse Daily: Is it worth it?
Cherry Hill: I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s the whole richness of life—doing what you love.
Categories: Horse Care.
By Amy Herdy