Q&A with Rene and Leo of @For_Always_And_Infinity
Q1: For anyone that hasn’t come past you and your Instagram, describe what it’s about to them in one sentence.
A: My account is to show my life with the most important aspect I treasure, Leo, and how he keeps me living and to inspire others.
Q2: You and Leo have an amazing bond, how long have you had him for and how did you come across getting him?
A: Leo was a surprise 13th birthday present. I was leasing 34-year-old TB for 9 months beforehand, the day of my birthday my parents took me to the barn and the first horse in the aisle was this frisky palomino. My dad pointed to him and said: “Hey, this one is new Rene look at him”. I just said yeah yeah he’s cute, pet his nose, and went right to the horse I leased. Then my dad pulled his name card aside and said “Look at what’s under this, Owner Rene” I had to walk over and see and my dad started to put on his halter and I was just in complete shock I had a horse.
I started out in a backyardish type of barn that only did low-level schooling shows so I had no means of knowing that normally people try horses before they buy them, and neither did my parents. My dad previously went to see Leo and had my trainer ride him and she thought it would be a good fit. Leo was 8 years old and I was 13. He was super green and I was just out of being a beginner. First few rides we had he took off with me so many times. I distinctly remember the barn manager coming in the indoor one day and saying, “Even when your horse is running away with you and you have to use the wall to stop, you have nothing but a big smile on your face.” I guess since we learned together, it is what brought us so close. I did a lot of unconventional things with him that were not necessarily safe because I was not in a barn that stressed safety.
However, we got to be very close with me doing so many odd things with Leo and he has grown to be so bomb proof because of the little annoying teenager who kept poking him and flinging herself at him and bringing him through weird things that nothing phases him. With 9 and a half years together, he has always been what I lean on, he has always been my happy place where ever he may be and he will always be my once in a lifetime horse, “heart horse” if you will.
Q3: You Instagram has blown up!! What was your motive for starting an Instagram in the first place?
A: I actually started my Instagram as a personal. However, all I really posted about was Leo since he’s been the centre of my world. It just cultivated to be his account.
Q4: Having such a large following you must have some critics? What is the best piece of advice an Instagram critic has given you?
A: As far as criticism goes, you cannot please everyone. And with a large following that has to be front and centre in your mind. I have tried very hard to have the least amount of drama on my page or create it and believe I’ve done quite well with just ignoring the comments that are aimed at attention.
Q5: Now, what is the best piece of advice you can give your followers about life in the equestrian Instagram world?
A: The best piece of advice I can say is to just be yourself! People seem to let slip that pictures and social media are only a millisecond of someone’s life that they had chose to show the world. Not everything is shown, and what is portrayed is what was dictated by the poster. So don’t beat yourself up, post what you’re proud of, post your life the way you see it or want to be seen and have fun with it. You cannot please everyone and your account is your account. You always want the followers of people who genuinely care, you’ll receive more support and enjoyment that way.
Q6: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome with Leo?
A: The hardest thing I have had to overcome would be the stigma against his breed in the show circuit that I pursued. I always felt the need to be the best because his breed was looked so low upon. Only until I started to just to enjoy my horse and not focus on what other people said, did I figure out there’s so much more to showing than just winning. It’s all about self-growth, without the confidence you have in your horse and yourself, you won’t win, and once you do have that happiness, you are able to enjoy that win so much more as well.
The advice I would give, would be to trust your horse more. To trust them you need to spend more time with your horse, get to know their quirks, what builds their confidence, what can make them nervous and try and work with them. I have ALWAYS viewed Leo as my partner and not just my mount. He has the power to let me ride him or to have me on the ground. We try and work together, it took me a VERY long time to get the patience with him and not constantly try and tell him what to do and be able to listen to him to work with him. But with enough time spent together, you’re able to read one another better and you feed off one another. Even when Leo does get nervous, and it’s in a situation I can’t conventionally calm him down, he still feeds off me and he settles himself that way.
Just as I do him, in situations where I look to him for confidence, he never fails to help me just as I do him. Give example - in relation to training, bond, riding and etc, maybe offer some advice for people in a similar situation
Q7: What is the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to you while riding
A: Leo spooked once at deer jumping into the ring while I was new with him and bareback while I was walking through a HUGE puddle and before I could sit his spook and I fell off in the puddle and had to walk in soaked. The best part too is that he stood at the other end of the puddle and stared at me, probably inwardly laughing, while I trudged my way out back to him.
Q8: What has been your most treasured memory with Leo so far?
A: I have always favoured our beach rides. We have gone four times to the beach so far. The first time we went I had a saddle and was not able to bring him into the water. Not knowing about the danger, my dad tried to walk him to the water and got stepped on and broke his foot. (P.S- do not ever try that). However, I still had fun that day even though we didn’t get him into the water.
The next time we went to the beach, which was that consecutive year, it only took about 3 tries to get him into the water and he LOVED it! We took off the saddle and went in bareback, ran on the beach, played in the waves everything. We definitely had the best day of our lives that trip. He was so happy and learned to be comfortable there. The next beach trip was again the consecutive year, and it was cold that day. We walked onto the beach and Leo headed straight to the water. (Side note- I never bought a saddle to the beach after the second time) Unfortunately, once we hit the water, Leo went straight into it but something cut his back right leg, I believe it was a horseshoe crab we stumbled upon by how the cut was shaped, and he was afraid to go back into the water that day.
Even though that was only 10 minutes into getting onto the beach, we found other things to enjoy. It was cloudy that day and I was just in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, bareback and Leo putzing around in a hackamore. While everyone else played in the water, as we always went as a group, Leo and I just strolled around the beach by ourselves. And mind you, this horse did not like straying from the herd at this time, but he ended up trusting me enough to let us stroll down the beach line peacefully just enjoying one another. I enjoyed this almost as equally as the previous year just for the fact that it was only us, just enjoying one another’s company.
Q9: If Leo were a famous person, who would he be?
A: Never really thought of this. :/ I'm not familiar enough with famous people hahah. Probably someone like Ryan Reynolds but with blond hair and shorter.
Q10: With style, are you a brown tack or black tack person?
A: Brown, Dark brown though, on Leo. On people, for a show, I still believe black boots and black helmet.
Q: What are your top three goals for the New Year with Leo? Any new and upcoming plans you’d like to share?
A: Do well at our A shows, get him to more places, such as cross-country fields and trails and just to strengthen our bond even more. Nothing huge is in the works but Instagram will always know once anything is planned!
We've also got some extra some extra questions for your enjoyment!
Q: You seem to have a large interest in show jumping, has this been a hobby/interest of yours for a long time?
A: I only started competitively showing in rated shows in 2012. Leo has always had the heart to jump since I got him in 2007 but I absolutely love showcasing his QH talents in the big league!
Q: What has been the best perk/achievement/reward you’ve gotten since starting your Instagram?
A: I absolutely love seeing how many people appreciate the centre of my world. It really touches me how he can influence so many and it still takes time for me to resonate that I can inspire people as well. The biggest reward is knowing how many love what I love and that I can share him with the people who can appreciate him as well.
Photo credit to Christopher Vanderyajt.