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Team #563 Nancy Ann Brown and Pono

Photo by Stacey L

Team #563: Nancy Ann Brown and Pono
From: North Plains, Oregon
Ages: 77 & 28
Combined Age: 105
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: May 28, 2022

My childhood fantasies about horses were nurtured by the books I could get from the bookmobile every month. I read everything I could find about them!  As an adult, I was still in love with horses. While living in Humboldt County, California, I found an old barn near my house that had multiple horse paddocks attached. I introduced myself to the owner, a woman in her late 50s named Della, who was also the trainer there. I talked her into letting me clean stalls in exchange for watching and learning from her. Soon, I was riding. Of course, the next step was to buy my own horse. Della knew of a Thoroughbred mare who was pregnant and starving. We nursed “Missy” back to health and she became my trail-riding companion.  I rode for hours on Pacific Lumber timberlands without ever crossing a road. It was heaven.

I had always wanted to learn to jump, so in 1976, I registered to take my horse (Missy’s now-grown colt) to a three-day event schooling program at a nearby barn. One day, while training at this barn, he spooked, and I came off and suffered a head injury.  This accident left me in a coma for six weeks and another two months in ICU. After coming out of the coma, I spent several years in physical therapy. During all of this time in recovery, I never found anything to replace my love of horseback riding, so when I was able, I began to trail ride again. 

In 1981, I was teaching chemistry at the local junior college, and one day I decided to take one last trail ride before classes started for the fall quarter. As I started along a logging road, I passed a few men with boxes who were picking huckleberries. Unfortunately, a bit further down the road, there was a black bear picking his own berries. My horse wanted no part of that, spooked, and left me on the ground with a broken collarbone and dislocated sacroiliac. Physical therapy again. 

Graduate school interrupted all thoughts of horses and riding until 1992. At that time, I was offered a position as a postdoc at the Oregon Regional Primate Center and moved to Northwest Oregon. I was still in love with horses, and I wanted to overcome my fear and ride again. I took lessons on a schooling horse for several years and then bought a 10-year-old Quarter Horse gelding whom I named Pono. I moved Pono to a dressage barn in 2009, and we both began to learn dressage.  In April 2020, my instructor and I were preparing for a possible Century Club ride for later that summer or fall. One weekend, while riding on my own in the outdoor arena, something scared Pono, and again, I hit the ground. This time, the fall left me with a broken femur. I was in rehab for several months, but I told my physical therapist that my number one goal was to ride again. Every day, I thought and planned for the time when I could get back on my horse. After a year, I was finally back in the saddle. Riding is a challenge now, but it is still my priority. 

Pono and I began planning for our delayed Century Club ride. My instructor worked with us for several months, and on May 28, 2022, we achieved our goal!  We completed the requirements to become a member of the Century Club! Pono was a perfect gentleman, it was a fantastic day, and a wonderful accomplishment. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way!