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Team #600 Sally Lacy and Concord River Rachel's Hope

Team #600: Sally Lacy and Concord River Rachel's Hope
From: Jericho Center, Vermont
Ages: 94 & 21
Combined Age: 115
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: October 23, 2022

Hope is my first pony, but not my first equine friend. My first two horses, spanning pre-teen through adolescent years, were gifts from friends. The first, Lucky, was a 17.2-hand chestnut sweetheart who cared for me as I learned to ride all over the rural township where I grew up during the late Depression and World War II years. He kept me safe from Frank Sinatra, boys, boredom, and silliness. He was followed by a 15-hand three-gaited Saddlebred, Ladybug, who continued my education. Then a hiatus as I entered the world of education, employment, marriage and offspring, civic duties, and finally a 15.3-hand bay off-the-track Thoroughbred, Time Time, whom I boarded near the USET headquarters. I haunted James Cox Brady’s old stables in Gladstone, NJ, watching the jumping team prepare for international competition (including the first woman, Kathy Kusner), observing dressage pioneers Hilda Gurney and Keen and Edith Master and Dahlwitz prepare for the Olympics, and meeting Dr. Max Gahwyler.

We moved to southwest Ohio, where I learned to be a sheep farmer and Border Collie handler, skills I worked on for 25-30 years there and on a hill farm in southwest New Hampshire. From Prince Edward Island to California, from New Hampshire to Mississippi. I loved it but kept my horse love alive at rental stables and a long trail ride in Scotland. I was with dogs in Scotland preparing for our National Sheepdog Finals trial when I had my first stroke (not recommended). I recovered enough to continue raising sheep and training and trialing my Border Collies for several years but eventually shed that and moved to Northwestern Vermont, still attending big sheepdog trials in the UK and Ireland. Ireland. There were the prettiest, friendliest ponies everywhere, roaming the moors, coming to accept pats and blackberries they couldn’t reach. While recounting this to my physician upon my return, he tired of my encomium and, looking over the glasses perched on the end of his nose, said “I prescribe a pony.” There! I was galvanized to find a Connemara not too old and not too young. With help, I found a well-bred pony. She turned out to have a perfect name for what she brought to me: Hope. She is a 14-hand bay mare who hadn’t been ridden in years. I had seen her dam years earlier when I visited her breeder on entirely unrelated business. She wasn’t even born then. She proved to be an amiable, not ambitious, somewhat spooky horse. At first, I was too stiff to get on or off, but eventually, all those early challenges were met, and her true Connemara disposition prevailed. I was welcomed into the Connemara family, and feel very lucky, indeed.

I needed to learn how to quell motion-induced 'wobblies in my brain' left over from my first stroke. With concentration, relaxation, and practice, cantering gradually became enjoyable again.  All seemed well until January 2021, when a second, more severe stroke came close to finishing me. Hope was called upon to be a therapy pony again. I have needed all my horses, from 1940 to 2022, Lucky to Hope. Helped by wonderful people, almost all talented riders, Hope and I are going to make our more-than-a-Century Club ride in honor of Concord River Rachel’s Hope.