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Team #599 Mary Wright and Banner

Team #599: Mary Wright and Banner
From: West End, North Carolina
Ages: 79 & 26
Combined Age: 105
Test: Training Level Test 3
Date: August 20, 2022

To say the least, Banner (age 26) and I (age 79) have followed the “road less traveled” to finally complete our Century Club test and membership on August 20, 2022.

My earliest memories include loving all animals but especially horses. Born to a distinctly non-horsey family, I lived where horses were almost nowhere to be seen. There was one exception, however, when I visited my grandparents in the heart of Toledo, Ohio. Now I am really dating myself when I confess that the highlight of these visits was waiting on the street curb for the old horse that pulled the milk wagon.

After much begging, I was allowed to start riding at age six. The “lesson horses” were polo ponies who needed exercise between matches. The groom for the ponies was the teacher whose instruction consisted of “stay on the ball, Mary.” At age 10, I got my own pony (Tony the Pony), then later a horse, and spent the next eight years learning to ride by the seat of my pants.

I did not receive structured riding instruction until college and young adulthood. In my 30s I discovered dressage, but my life situation again precluded easy access to training. I was still riding mostly on my own.

My husband and I were living in the hilltop wilderness of Putnam Valley, NY, 26 years ago when Banner entered my life. He was the son of our very calm and gentle Morgan mare who he was supposed to emulate for my later years of riding. Instead, he was exuberant, pony-smart, and very opinionated. After several years of trying various training methods for Banner, it was dressage that finally saved the day for both of us.

When Banner was 10, we moved to an equestrian community in North Carolina. It was the first time Banner lived in real civilization and had so many new challenges to experience. It was round two in his life of getting him settled and rideable.

Recently we have had the good fortune to work in dressage with Allison Cino, a very patient and knowledgeable trainer from our area. With her help and encouragement, Banner and I were able to ride Training Level Test 3 for the Century Club membership. I am so grateful because instead of seeing this milestone as the end, I feel like this is a new beginning for Banner and me together in our advancing years.