Girls and horses just go together.

Julie Williams is living proof.

The Claremore wife and mother of two says her own mother will verify that one of her first words was “horsey.”

“I was obsessed from birth,” she says of her love for all things equine.

She still is.

Even though “I drove my parents nuts” begging to go on every pony ride she saw, Julie didn’t have her first real riding experience until she was in third grade. She rode her neighbor’s blind pony, Rainbow. Julie still remembers how well Rainbow responded to voice cues from his rider.

Acquiring her first horse at 13, Julie has seldom been without at least one animal since her teens. She still laughs when she remembers the eight mile ride to McDonalds and going to the drive through window on her horse. She says she and her sister took adventuresome trail rides through woodsy areas, sometimes crossing the Vermont-Massachusetts state line near their home.

Julie was also a show rider. Involved in 4-H, she rode western style, showing her buckskin mount through her high school years. She also took lessons in forward or hunt seat style and did some jumping.

She went horseless for a time during her college years. It wasn’t a happy state. Soon she was in contact with her former riding instructors. That connection led to ownership of a Thoroughbred right off the race track . Her former instructors also introduced her to their new interest — dressage.

Julie turns to quotes in a recent horse magazine to explain dressage. “It’s roots go back to the glory days of the Greek Empire, yet today it is the hottest trend on the U.S. equestrian scene ... it is a progressive, standardized classical system ... It’s popularity is grounded in physical benefits to the horse, the development of communication between horse and rider ...”

Julie was, and is, just crazy about the discipline. After she met and married Eric, she brought her horse and her love of dressage with her to Oklahoma. Her eyes still light up as she recalls how excited she was to find there were so many horses and tack shops in Oklahoma! And the weather! She could ride year ’round! She still does, even if it means donning extra layers of clothing on the coldest of winter days.

She so loves horses that she seldom parts with one, and when she does, she goes about “finding a person” for the animal rather than just selling it. A self-described “sucker for old horses", she has a 30+ buckskin named Shasta and the 25ish Sparkles in her backyard barn. Then there is the pony, Ginger, currently ridden by son Evan. Daughter Paige enjoys both Shasta and Sparkles. Julie spends most of her time in the saddle astride the handsome gray Davinci, nicknamed Leo, and the energetic mare Fanderell, call name Casey.

Julie knows how much horsewomen have in common. Their network provides all kinds of benefits. Julie’s backyard barn is full. Neighbor Rita Glen keeps Leo in her barn and Julie helps train Rita’s young Fresian gelding Jurgen. Hanging out at Rita’s barn, Julie has fallen in love again, this time with a little Fresian filly named Teske.

Next to riding, Julie loves helping other horse owners-lovers bring their horses along with

more training and experience. She will take a client’s Arabian to regional competition soon. She enjoys exhibiting Jurgen as well as her own mounts in dressage competition.

Working continually to enhance her own skills, Julie has been riding with trainer/instructor Sherry Guess of Porter for about 10 years. “She is my role model,” she says of her teacher. “I would like to be as good someday.”

Julie credits Guess with her current skill levels. “I had so many bad habits to fix,” she says.

She has thus developed an interest in teaching both adults and children. She uses the faithful Shasta as a lesson horse for beginning riders. More advanced pupils ride their own horses. As an instructor, Julie focuses on basic horse care and safety skills as well as rider alignment and balance. She delights in helping other riders build confidence.

She calls their continuing efforts to improve, and her own, “a journey". As her e-mail address, outriding@sbcglobal.net, indicates this is for her, a lifelong and delightful journey. And always, she is focused on being a balanced rider and teaching balanced riding.

Why? “Horses are happier with balanced riders on their backs,” she says.