Forest with her two mares Cupcake (Vendetta) and Bindi (Vindicating).
Hello. Greetings. Salutations….
I would like to introduce myself. I am Forest. If you follow us on social media you probably have learned a little bit about me, my horses, and some of the things I am passionate about. But in order for you to really understand Herd of Zebras I think getting to know my background will help tell the brands story.
Often times the first thing people notice about me is my name. Let me get a couple things out of the way. No my parents are not flower children and yes I have heard every “Forrest Gump” joke in the world. Actually, I am proudly named after my great-grandmother, Forest Mable and my great-aunt Forest Patricia. They went by their middle names and that was the plan with me but I guess I didn’t look like an Ann. I do agree that Ann doesn’t seem to fit the kind of person I am. I remember coming home from school as a kid and telling my mom how she wrecked my life by naming me Forest. Kids can be pretty cruel but I must admit the older I get the more I appreciate my mom naming me how she did… Not often do women get to pass down their first names like men do. Pretty bad ass if you ask me. Thanks, mom.
I am going to give you the Spark Notes version of my life… I was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. I know, Wisconsin… Not super exciting but hey we created some top riders like Laura Kraut and Beezie Madden. So, there is that. I have one sibling, Joe, he is older and we are super close. So close that we actually live about a four-minute walk from each other. My parents are the two best people I know. Wonderfully kind-hearted, generous, and genuine people. I can’t say enough good things about them. They have been together since they were 16 and even went to the same high school Joe and I did. Crazy, right? Fortunately, my parents love to travel so my brother and I were lucky to see many different places in the world. I love to travel and think it is so important to see and experience as much of the world as you can… I could go on and on about that but we will save that for another blog. Both my brother and I were pretty adamant that we would not come back to the area after college (he went to Providence College in Rhode Island and I went to Marquette University for under grad and graduate school) but yet here we are. My family is the most important thing in my life and are what keep me here in Wisconsin. I will always have a chronic case of wander-lust but it is good to be home. For now, at least.
My brother is married to the other half of Herd of Zebras and one of my very best friends, Liz. All the beautiful designs you see on the clothing we sell and on the website is all her. I have my masters in digital marketing and advertising but never in a million years will I be a graphic artist. I give her ideas of what I am looking for and she goes far above any of my expectations. We are the perfect team as I am fine with being the voice of Herd and she is the artist. Liz and Joe have three of the world’s best kids. Two girls, Drew (16) and Bryn (13), and their son, Frank (6). If you know me, you know that I live for these kids and like to spend as much time with them as I can. Liz’s parents live behind them and are also a big part of my life and making Herd happen. They help us print our shirts, sew patches on garments, and offer great advice.
And then there is Dan. Oh, Dan. He is the best. Dan is my boyfriend and my rock. He is the calm to my crazy. He is the best man I know. He has been so supportive as I ventured into turning Herd of Zebras from a dream into a reality. I am thankful for him every day. He has made all the sh*t I have been through so worth it. Sigh, I love this man. My goal for 2019 is to get my handsome man on a horse…. Wish me luck.
I have been in love with all things horses since I can remember. The first pony I loved was a Shetland Pony mare named Pixie I started riding when I was five. She was owned by our family friend Beth who let me feel like she was mine for a few years until I had outgrown her. She was super sassy and always had a hair style.
My first pony, Sparky, is who we named the HofZ mascot after. I have owned Sparky since I was eight… I am 32 as I write this. How many people are lucky enough to still have their pony 24 years later? Every day I get to see Sparky is a wonderful day. My niece, Bryn, has recently taken up riding (#DreamsRealized) and Sparky is loving having a kid to train. He is 28 this year and I am counting on him to live at least another 28 years.
Currently my family has four horses. Sparky, (the wonder pony), Rudolf, (my retired jumper who thinks he is still a stallion at 24 years young), Cupcake (my very green, never has gone to a horse show or jumped over 2’6, eight year old Irish Sport Horse mare), and lastly, Bindi (my baby, the coming three year old Irish Sport Horse mare who I have owned since she was five months old). They are all total individuals and I am so lucky to be their human.
I will touch more on my riding history and goals in future blogs. I have been out of the jumper show ring for nearly 10 years now. Life gets busy and crazy, especially when starting a career, but now that I have Cupcake and Bindi coming up, I hope to be back in the show ring this season! I ride with Bethany Parins in Green Bay, WI, at North Star Equestrian at Greenfield Farm.
Whoa. This has been a lot of info for y’all. If you have made it this far, hats off to you! If you left, I can’t say I blame you.
So why Herd of Zebras? Well, here is the long and short of it. I wanted to build a community of people who are there for each other no matter what. Period. We all have our “stripes” and I know what it is like to have others defined you based on the stripes you bare. It sucks. A lot. For me my stripes were chronic endometriosis, infertility, failed marriage, anxiety… just to name a few. During times where I really needed someone who understood what I was going through, I could find no one with a similar story. I wanted to change that. I want people to be okay with their stories and know that when they feel alone that there are people out there who are willing to listen.
We all have different stories or “stripes” if you will. All of our stripes are unique and beautiful.
This blog will be used as a place where other members of Herd of Zebras can share their stories.
All of my love,