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Team #565 Linda Co and Traditions Sarah

Photo by Renee Zernitsky

Team #565: Linda Co and Traditions Sarah
From: Middletown, New York
Ages: 79 & 22
Combined Age: 101
Test: First Level Test 1
Date: June 10, 2022

“So,” I said to the orthopedic surgeon, “when can I ride again?” 

He looked up from the chart where he had chronicled his treatment of my six broken bones and said, “NEVER.”

“Mmmmm,” I replied, “not happening.”

Merry, my beloved Welsh Cob, had never put a foot wrong until the day, out of the blue, when he had lost it and launched me. During the months that I had been in the hospital and in rehab, friends and my trainer had worked with a world-class vet and a world-class saddle fitter, but Merry had made it very clear, by bucking off all and sundry, that he was no longer rideable and needed to be retired. 

The last person to work with Merry had moved him to a friend’s hunter-jumper barn. Recently widowed and shaken by my fall, I entered a whole new world. I met Chris, Brittany Cooper, and Traditions Sarah.

Chris, the classic “barn mom” took me under her wing and taught me about the hunter-pleasure world. She advised me about the hunter show routine and turnout, helps keep me in the saddle when it seems too cold or too hot to ride, and has become my riding buddy. She is also showing Intro dressage!

Brittany, owner and trainer at Black Ridge Farm, works equally well with tiny kids, teens, adults, and my 79-year-old self. You only have to look at her horses and riders to see their very correct training. I found that my lessons were not very different from the dressage lessons I’d been taking for years: forward, straight, bend, and balance. I am so grateful for Britt’s instruction, support, and willingness to take time to go to dressage shows, and for Sarah…

Sarah, when I first met her, was the “SAFE” school horse. She would ignore extraneous aids, canter on the correct lead, and stay under her rider. Puddles, umbrellas, blowing paper, falling chestnuts, and hay deliveries hold no terrors for Sarah. For the first time in my riding life (nine horses) I was able to ignore pricked ears and concentrate on riding. While she always defaults to taking care of me, she began to listen and do as I ask. I give thanks daily for this lovely, versatile mare. We are now training First Level and riding in a quadrille team. She keeps me fit and engaged. Both her delightful owner, Vanessa, and I love her to bits!

A Century Club ride has been a goal of mine for many years. It’s a wonderful program keeping older riders in the saddle for a little longer. Many thanks to The Dressage Foundation.