About Me

 My Story

The Beginning

 I was born in Fairfield, California on April 8th, 2000 and was named Paola, an Italian name that means “little one,” because I was so small. I love that I have such an uncommon name, although it is frustrating that many people cannot pronounce it the first time they meet me. My earliest memory is from when I lived in Clovis, California. I was three, and I remember how some of the house looked like and that it had a garden in the backyard. At that age, my hair was such a light blonde that it was nearly white.

Throughout my life, my family moved and traveled a lot, so I have many memories of being in airports or train stations. I can never really say that I grew up in any one spot; it is always hard when someone asks where I grew up. My dad is an aerospace engineer, so we were always moving to different places depending on where the work was. Before I was nine, I had never lived in any one place for more than three years. Just when I was born, I lived in Vacaville for six weeks before moving to Hanover, Germany. Vacaville is a small town about one hundred miles from San Francisco. Hanover is located in Lower Saxony in northern Germany, and I lived there for a year. Shortly after my first birthday, I moved to Aschau im Chiemgau, another part of Germany that is near the Austrian border. Aschau im Chiemgau is a beautiful, picturesque Bavarian village surrounded by the Alps. While living there, I played in the snow and went up to the top of the mountains in a mountain lift. A year later, I moved to Vies, France, by the Mediterranean. I stayed there for several months before moving to Torrevieja, Spain, also near the Mediterranean. My parents said that I enjoyed living so close to the beach. We swam in the ocean a lot. A lot of people in Spain wanted to touch my hair because it was so white, which is unusual for that part of the world. In December 2002, I moved to Clovis, California, the first place that I remember. I celebrated my third birthday while living there and went to a story time every week at Borders bookstore. One of my clearest memories is finding a black widow in the small swimming pool in my backyard. Later on, I returned to Europe, living in Sweden, my mom's native country. Though it is near the fourth largest town in Sweden, the town we lived in was the smallest one I had ever lived in. We rode bikes and hiked in the woods a lot. We also picked berries in the forest. I experienced the most snow I ever had while living there. It was a great winter with lots of snow, and my younger brother and I enjoyed making snowmen, snow caves, and having lots of snowball fights with our older brother. After Sweden, I moved to Wales for my dad's new job. We lived in a town called Tonteg, about fifteen minutes outside Cardiff. Wales was grey and rainy most of the time, but was still fun. I started school there. It was my first and only experience wearing a school uniform. There was a playground down the street that I walked to with my family, and we often visited the nearby town of Cardiff, as well as the Brecon National Forest. We took trips through Wales, as well as going to Bath and London. When in London, I traveled London Underground, or the “Tube” as locals call it. I also crossed the Tower Bridge by foot, saw the Parliament Building and the Big Ben.

The summer before starting first grade, when I was six, I returned to the United States. I lived in the small town of Coarsegold, nearby both Yosemite National Park and Clovis, the latter being the city I lived in when I was three. I lived in Coarsegold for three years, the most I had lived in any one place. Several times, my family visited the National Park to hike and see the beautiful valley and magnificent mountains. Many times we visited the nearby lake, Bass Lake, a large lake in the mountains that is a popular tourist location. Sometimes we swam in the lake, and other times we hiked on the trails. I attended Coarsegold Elementary for both first and second grade before becoming home schooled. My favorite teacher was my second grade teacher, Mr. Cano, who was a really fun teacher. He sometimes let us go outside and play games for an extra few minutes after recess and was always really funny. My name, being uncommon, is hard for people to say. I remember that Mr. Cano never let anyone out to recess until they said my name properly. My best friend at that age was Alexia. We played role-playing games in which we had magical powers every day at recess, and I went to her house often. Shortly after my ninth birthday, I moved to Canyon Lake, Texas, right in the heart of Hill Country. Canyon Lake is not far from San Antonio. My family often visited the historical Alamo, where the famous Alamo battle was fought for the independence of Texas long ago. It's a really amazing historical place. Closer to our home was the Madrone Trail and the Guadalupe River, which we also visited several times. Quite a few times during the summer, my family would take our mountain bikes and ride the trail. My family enjoyed riding our bikes together as my dad is a cyclist. The river was fun to swim in, and many people went river tubing there, although we never did. I also golfed for the first time while living in Texas. My family owned property near a golf course, and my younger brother and I took many lessons on golfing. Two years later, I returned to Coarsegold, where I now live.

Besides living in many places, I have also traveled a lot with my family. We visited Klamath Falls, Oregon many times, probably more than any other state, because me grandparents lived there. Sometimes we went there in the winter and played with their Golden Retriever in the snow. In the summer one time, we went fishing with my grandpa, an avid fisher, who taught me how to fish. We never caught anything, but it was fun. Another time we visited Crater Lake, which is not far from my grandparent's home. Crater Lake is a volcanic crater that is filled with clear, pristine water.

On another trip, we spent a week on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we swam at the beaches, seeing a variety of ocean life in the water–everything from colorful fish to sea turtles to bottle-nosed dolphins to black crabs. We even went to one beach with sand that was black because of the lava from the volcano on the island. Since most of the beaches had large waves that loomed above us, my younger brother and I were only allowed in the shallow water. While in Hawaii, my family visited the rainforest near the top of the volcano. It did actually rain while we were strolling through the forest. We even went to a real Hawaiian Luau, where the pig was roasted underground, cooked from hot volcanic ground. As is as tradition, we tossed our flower leis into the ocean before leaving. Hawaii was really fun; I loved being there because I got to swim at the beaches and see amazing tropical animal life.

Another time, my family went on a rode trip to Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. In Nevada, we stopped in Vegas and saw many amazing sights, including the MGM building and the Egyptian museum. Inside the MGM building, we saw many lions with tawny hides and paws as big as my head. We could even stand underneath the lions, with only a thin sheet of glass stopping the lions from falling on top of us. In the Egyptian museum, which is a giant glass pyramid, we saw King Tut's golden coffin and other artifacts. Colorado was also exciting to visit. We visited a dinosaur museum in Woodland Park, seeing giant dinosaur statues and fossils. In Utah we saw the magnificent Zion National Park and the beautiful Temple Square.

Since my family loves road trips we always drive everywhere, so we have gone through the lonely deserts of Arizona and New Mexico when first moving to Texas and when returning to California. When living in Texas, we drove through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky to reach the college town of Athens, Ohio. Athens is a charming town with lovely brick buildings. It is small enough that my family could walk everywhere we wanted to go, and the people were very friendly. When I was 11, my dad attended a conference at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. While there my family camped in a tent at a campground, which was really exciting. One night, a bear entered our camp. I didn't notice it because I was asleep, but my older said that bear walked right by his tent, and we noticed the footprints in the morning. Since we moved back to California, my family has traveled to Utah again. This time, we were dropping my older brother, Robin, off at college in Provo, Utah. It was the beginning of January, and there was snow on the ground. One memorable moment of the trip was when were passing Cedar City just after dawn and temperature dropped to -28 degree Fahrenheit. Later, when we picked Robin up from college in the summer, we drove on Highway 6, a desolate desert highway. After passing Las Vegas, we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere until we neared Provo.

My family has interesting ways in celebrating holidays since my mom is Swedish. We use a lot of Swedish traditions. On a family member's birthday, the rest of family gets up early and puts candles on the cake while the birthday person sleeps. The candles are then lit and the family brings the cake into the birthday person's room, waking that person up by singing “Happy Birthday.” Christmases are also special. Swedes spend the whole month of December celebrating, baking treats and food for the whole month. Pepperkakor(ginger snaps) and Knäck(hard caramels), are the usual treats, and my dad always makes fudge. On the 13th, the darkest day of winter in Sweden, we celebrate Santa Lucia Day. On Lucia Day, the oldest girl in a Swedish family dresses in a long white gown with a red ribbon around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. She is followed by other girls also in white gowns, except they only hold a candle and do not wear candles on their heads. Boys are dressed as the Star Boy with a star hat on their head. The group sings the song “Santa Lucia” and brings treats to the sleeping parents early in the morning. It is also performed on TV in the Swedish State Church. My siblings and I used to perform this for my family, but now we watch the recorded version on the Internet. Sweden has three days of Christmas: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas. People don't work on those days. On Christmas Eve, we eat a huge Smörgåsbord with many dishes ranging from herring to meatballs, ham and other Swedish dishes before opening our presents. In Sweden, their version of Santa Clause, a gnome riding a goat delivers presents in person on Christmas Eve. In these days, the Grandpa typically dresses up as the Santa, who is called Jultomte. In our family, we just hand out presents to each other. Christmas is always spent with the family.

I got my first and only pet in February 2009, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, which is a dog breed originally bred to hunt lions in Africa. Two of them can take on a lion. Because her whole litter of eight was born on Christmas, each dog was named after one of Santa's reindeer, ours being named Prancer. We picked her up from the breeder in Ojai when she was a tiny, seven week old puppy. She was only as long as my dad's hand. When we saw her, she was one of friendliest, most outgoing puppies from the start, and we fell in love with her. Prancer is the most loving dog in the world and is part of the family. She gives us hugs every time we come home, which can be intimidating to some people because she is over 70 pounds. She loves to cuddle and sit on our laps as is if she is a ten pound Chihuahua, not a 70 pound Ridgeback. She also whines every time she wants something and has different whines for when she is hungry, cold, needs to go outside, and for every other thing that she wants. She only barks in her sleep.

I have two brothers: Robin, who is six years older than I, and Alex, who is a year younger. My mom is from Sweden and dad's family originally came from Italy in the late 19th century. All people with our last name, Pedranti, are related. I have distant cousins in Italy, Argentina, and the United States, and one day I would to meet some of them. My dad was once an aerospace engineer and now teaches physics and calculus at the local high school. My family is very close and always does almost everything together, from dinner every night to our Monday night board games. We've gone on many road trips together and we do many activities together. One activity that we enjoy is playing board games together, which we try to do often. In the summer time, my family goes swimming together in the pool. My older brother Robin is studying Exercise and Wellness at BYU in Provo. He loves to play sports and wants to start his own business. Growing up, I went to a lot of his football games and track and field meets. My dad is very supportive and enjoys playing tabletop strategy games and trading card games with my younger brother. My mom takes me to the barn and watches me ride horses.


 Like many riders, I have always loved horses, yet I haven't started riding until November of 2013. To start out with, I rode a small bay schoolmaster named Reno, who taught me the basics of riding, from walking to trotting. He was the first horse I sat on, so I experienced my first walking and trotting on him. By early spring of the next year, I had moved on to a chestnut mare Ginger, who had a personality like Ginger from "Black Beauty."  She was the first horse I fell off of.  One ride, while going over trot poles, she began bucking like a bronco, and as an inexperienced rider, I came off.  A few months later, she slid to a sudden stop from the canter. That was my second fall.  I landed on a ground pole and got a huge, sore bruise on my hip.

 Around that time, my trainer began looking for a horse me. The first one she found was a warmblood dressage schoolmaster, but after that horse was taken we decided that I would leased one of the horses at the barn to gain experience. That horse was Chester, a chestnut TB/Percheron gelding who taught me a lot over the summer I lease him. On him, I learned to confidently canter and even jumped my first cross rail and small vertical. I moved from riding Intro Level to riding Training Level Tests. He was a challenging horse, though, probably the most challenging I have ridden thus far in my riding career.  Chester was quite a mischievous horse, but fairly hot temperament, fast gait, bumpy canter, and occasional uncooperativeness made me into the rider I am today.  In spite of all this, I enjoyed riding him.

  Also over that summer I had the opportunity to ride several other horses: my friends horses and one that belonged to a woman at the barn so I could gain even more experience by riding different kinds of horses. I even tried out Romeo, a horse that was for sale, to begin building up a profile of what I want and don't want in a horse. Slowly I began gaining experienced and skill.

Toward the end of September of 2014, I began riding Moe, a bay Thoroughbred mare trained up to Third Level dressage. She was a fast horse, so not many rode her, but her speed did not deter me, and riding Chester had prepared me.  I ended up doing well on her, even during my first ride on her.  I've heard that she has done Beginner Novice eventing and always ended up under optimum time, so that shows how fast she is.  On her I began learning how to get a horse on the bit.

 On January 15th of 2015, I was offered a working student position with Laura Hermanson, a dressage rider who loves mules and successfully competes them in dressage. She went to 2014 U.S. Dressage Finals with her mule, Dyna, being the first person to ever qualify with a mule. On the 20th, I went to her ranch, and then began working for. It's really an awesome opportunity and I have learned a lot of her training techniques and fine tune how I work with and communicate with horses and mules. Not only have I learned to ride horse, I have also learned how to train them.  With her, I have done lots of groundwork and lungeing.  When lungeing, she doesn't do so just to wear the horse out. She trains them to use their body correctly, and to become round without the interference of a rider.  Groundwork also gains the horse's respect, which was useful when I began working with the mare named Lucky(more on her later).  Laura's training philosophy includes a mixture of natural horsemanship, classical dressage, biomechanics, and the correct basics that legends like George Morris teach.  She seeks to teach the horse in a way the the horse understands.

Riding Lucky in the mist
 Since working with her, I have learned to really understand horses and to build a connection with then through groundwork.  I ride her horse Lucky, a TB/Hanoverian mare, and I am the only one working, so it is much different than when I rode the school horses.  Spending time lungeing Lucky and doing groundwork with her has really helped me to build a deeper connection with her than I have had with the other horses I have ridden. I have also gained Lucky's respect though the groundwork.  Lucky is a really fun mare to ride, and is my favorite horse!
Cone exercise
 I've also ridden three mules: BB, Laura's palomino dressage mule; Annalissa, a western mule; and Black Ty Affaire, a mule with very nice dressage gaits.  I rode Annalissa In a western trail course clinic, which was really fun(Part 1, 2).

Annalissa the mule
 Additionally, I have ridden a cute pony named Pistachio, and I have navigated at several driving events.  I have even driven a few times myself.

Riding Western on Lucky

 You may wonder about the name of my blog, the Aspiring Equestrian. When coming up with this name, I wanted something that would stick with me no matter what horse I ride, so I thought this name would be suiting. I am a young rider with high aspirations in the sport of eventing. Someday, I want to compete in the highest level, CCI4, in Rolex, Burghley, Badminton, and hopefully even the World Equestrian Games and Olympics. It has always been my dream and I will never, ever, give up on it. Follow the journey of a young rider and working student reaching for her dreams!

Fun Facts and Things I love Outside if Horses

Music I love: New Order, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, the Cure, Cracker, Green Day, Blink-182, Matchbox 20, Counting Crows, Styx, some rock songs, alternative, and alternative rock.

Favorite book series: Harry Potter! I have a huge Harry Potter obsession; I can’t even explain how much I love it. I've read the books and seen the movies more times than I can count. To put things into perspective, I’ll say that I love it about as much as I love horses. I'm in the Slytherin House. 

Favorite TV Shows: The X-Files, Star Trek, and Supernatural are my favorite shows. I have seen Star Trek TOS, TNG, Voyager, and DS9.

Movies: I love all kinds of movies, mainly action and adventure movies, Sci-Fi, horror, and '80s.  Some favorites include Better off Dead, American Graffiti, MIB, James Bond, Jack Ryan, Constantine, the Punisher, and many more. I've seen hundreds of movies.

Other Hobbies: I love board games, though I don't play the typical ones, like Monopoly and Scrabble. I play things like Star Trek: Catan, Pandemic, and such. I also play a trading card game named Yugioh. I like to draw, read, and write. Other than that, I love doing things with my friends, many of whom also love Harry Potter.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!! I came across your blog and would love for you to review my horse series! Google or go to Amazon and type "A Horse to Remember" and "A Horse to Treasure". Both are aimed at young adults and I think you would enjoy them. As the author I would love to send you a free digital copy if you would agree to review them on your site and on Amazon. Please e-mail me if interested at julihutchings@gmail.com


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