Team #604 Catherine Mayes and Reine de Coeurs
Team #604: Catherine Mayes and Reine de Coeurs
From: Marshfield, Massachusetts
Ages: 77 & 23
Combined Age: 100
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: November 6, 2022
I was introduced to riding by my four-year-old son when I was 50. Mike had weekly lessons at a nearby stable. He rode Nugget, a 16-hand, black and brown spotted Appaloosa, with breeding lines to Secretariat. She was gentle and unflappable. The perfect horse for my non-verbal autistic son. When asked to do anything while riding Nugget, Mike always surprised me. He would turn himself completely around in the saddle for “round the world,” he could do multistep trail activities, and he would end each lesson cantering, sharing the saddle with his instructor. He said his first full sentence at the farm which brought everyone in earshot to tears.
One day, the owner walked over to me as I was watching Mike’s lesson and said, “If you learned to ride you might better understand what Mike is learning and doing.” A week or so later, Sugar, a brown Appaloosa mare, and I were partnered. That was the beginning of an understanding of what Mike was accomplishing and how much better the world was on horseback. Five years later Mike moved on to Pop Warner Football and I was off to a trail riding barn.
In 2009, I was introduced to a small brown mare named Reine de Coeurs, aka Hearts. She had a beautiful thick dark brown mane, and a perfect heart-shaped blaze in the middle of her forehead. I slid open the door to her stall, she poked her head out, and as I scratched behind her ears, I thought “There you are.” I like to think she felt the same way.
Hearts had been recently purchased as a therapeutic horse for the autistic daughter of some acquaintances. There were some articles in the local newspaper about my work as an Educational Advocate and coordinator for a community-based social program for teens with autism. The family reached out to ask me to be their daughter’s advocate and to help them find a school program for her. They asked if I would like to ride Hearts with the understanding that after I rode, their daughter would join us in the arena and ride her pony. That was the beginning of my partnership with Hearts. Hearts, like Nugget, was calm and solid. If the other horses were racing and bucking because a deer walked onto the property, Hearts would shake her head and keep munching her hay. Because she was such a good girl, I felt very protective of her.
During the next ten years, I offered to purchase Hearts multiple times, but her family wanted to keep her. Finally, persistence won, and with my husband’s help, we were able to make Hearts part of our family. For the past three years, every single day when I go to her stable to ride, brush her or let her graze, I can’t believe my good fortune to have a partnership with this beautiful kind little horse. Hearts seems to be really content in her in/out stall at Kismet Farm and with her horse friends there.
I hope we have many more years to enjoy each other’s company and am thrilled that we are able to celebrate our partnership by becoming members of the Century Club.