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Team #571 Alice Bennett and Rosie

Photo by Lori Roth

Team #571: Alice Bennett and Rosie
From: Park Forest, Illinois
Ages: 83 & 21
Combined Age: 104
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: July 10, 2022

When I was 13, I was granted the dearest wish of every horse-crazy girl, a horse of my own. Jingo was a three-year-old Welsh Pony/Mustang cross who’d never been ridden. She cost $75, and they threw in a McClellan army saddle. All I knew about horses had come from storybooks; the only time I’d ridden, the horse ran away with me. My father was not a rider, but he’d grown up with workhorses, and between the two of us we got her saddle-broken. Dad taught me to post, and from there on I was on my own. I never had a lesson, never owned a helmet, and had never been to a horse show or seen a horse jump. Jingo was not sweet-tempered, but I loved her dearly and by some miracle, I didn’t get killed, though my father frequently threatened to shoot her. I had to sell Jingo when I left for college, and on her last day with me, I jumped her bareback over a single bamboo pole set at four feet. 

Fast-forward to my 40s, after my children were launched. I started taking riding lessons, where I first heard about leads and diagonals and jumped real jumps. One day my trainer said, “I’ve got just the horse for you.” He was right. I bought Dream Weaver, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred who, unlike Jingo, was sweet-tempered, and we evented until he was in his 20s. When Dream died at age 33, I assumed I was done with horses, but after a year or so I still wanted to ride. At 69 I thought I was too old to buy another horse, which my daughters definitely would not want to inherit, so I started taking lessons at Winsom Farm in Beecher, Illinois. At 78 I found I wanted to jump again. Steve Farkos, my wonderful trainer, had his doubts, but he let me try. I jumped for four more years. 

I’m still riding lesson horses, and Rosie (Don’s Silver Lady) is the latest in a long line. She’s a Quarter Horse who’d been ridden Western in a hackamore until she came to Winsom, so we’ve had to teach her new aids and a new way of going. She’s 21 and I’m a month short of 84: between us we’ve lived almost 105 years and we’re both still learning. 

So I say, don’t stop doing what you love until you absolutely must. I hope to be good for a few more years.