For the love of horses

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A five-year-old girl roams the carnival grounds with her parents until she approaches a vendor who has ponies for children to ride, excitement and wonder light up her face as she rides a pony in a guided circle.

Sparked from her mother’s love of horses, Staff Sgt. Katrina Rubisch, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, developed a passion for horses that grew throughout and beyond her childhood.

Rubisch’s childhood enthusiasm for the equestrian world led her to become the president of the Equestrian Club at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Rubisch got her first pony, Colby, a cream-colored miniature horse with blue eyes, when she was 10 years old.

“He was quite the spunky little horse,” Rubisch said. “He taught my sister and me the basics of horse ownership; from grooming, to cleaning hooves, to teaching him some tricks. He definitely taught us a lot.”

Eventually, Rubisch’s parents bought her a gelding, a neutered male horse, named Bandit. The two grew close as partners, learning from each other. Using natural horsemanship techniques, she and her family broke him to ride.

“We showed together for a couple of years at local shows, but he absolutely hated to show. Eventually, he became just my trail partner. I sold him when he was four years old, and I still regret that decision to this day,” Rubisch said. “I never wanted to own another gelding because of the special bond that Bandit and I had shared.”

In October of 2012, Rubisch was riding a two-year-old horse that belonged to a stables owner. Suddenly, the horse began bucking frantically and took off running at full speed. When the colt took a hard left turn Rubisch flew out of the saddle in the opposite direction, landing on her shoulder and arm.

Rubisch got back in the saddle, but never rode the horse again. She was nervous to ride any horse after the incident, her confidence in the saddle was shaken. In an instant, the trust she built with the horses she had mastered riding was severely weakened.

She didn’t quite recover her full confidence until she met Bucky.

While trying to find a horse of her own, Rubisch had recently discovered female horses didn’t quite match her personality as well as Bandit had. So, Rubisch found a buckskin quarter horse for sale and decided to give the gelding a try. She felt a connection with the horse, purchased him and named him Bucky.

“I remember when I climbed on top of him I had a reassuring feeling wash over me and I knew I could trust him. He took me on a two-hour trail ride and crossed through water and ditches with ease,” Rubisch said. “He was so calm and so confident; he reminded me of my Bandit. I was so sure I was never going to own another gelding again, but I am so glad that I decided to try out Bucky that day; that two-hour trail had changed me and made me confident again.”

Today, in the dark and early hours of the morning, she gets up and ready for work while helping her two-year-old child prepare for the day, but it’s not the only thing she does every morning. Rubisch heads off to the stables to take care of her horses before and after work each day.

In January, Rubisch found out about the Equestrian Club and wanted to become a part of it. She became president of the club after an interview with the previous president. Ever since, she has been trying to garner attention for the club.

“It has been mainly an informational club, but I really want to turn it into something where the members can go trail riding or show together,” Rubisch said. “I want this club to be open to all horse enthusiasts, not just for the people that own horses. I welcome all disciplines to the club and am looking for new ideas to improve it.”

Though Rubisch doesn’t have the opportunity to ride her horses as often as she would like, she enjoys taking her horses to Buckhorn Lake in Wilson, North Carolina on weekends. She also likes to find organized trail rides with other horse enthusiasts.

“My daily life with the horses consists of feeding them twice a day, mucking stalls, picking paddocks, grooming and just spending quality time with them,” Rubisch said. “I usually accomplish this all after work, it's my way of destressing from the work day.”

Rubisch sometimes brings her child out to the stables to help feed and care for the horses. She allows and encourages her daughter to ride the horses while Rubisch guides the horse and keeps her child steady; inspiring a new generation to foster love and respect for the equestrian world.

If you are interested in joining the Equestrian Club, please contact Rubisch at (919) 722-5790.