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Team #641 Molly Fine and Tuxedo ‘N’ Tail

Team #641: Molly Fine and Tuxedo ‘N’ Tail
From: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Ages: 77 & 24
Combined Age: 101
Test: First Level Test 3
Date: May 13, 2023

My infatuation with horses started in Mission Valley, California, at the age of five, and continued until I was 17. By that time, my family lived in Northern Virginia – my father was in the Navy, and we moved many times during those years. At 17, my friends and I had no concept of self-preservation and while we had helmets, we seldom wore them. On one ambitious cross-country ride, my riding career came to an abrupt halt with an accident that put me in the hospital. I don’t remember anything about the accident and when I was able to ride again, I was terrified. In those days there was not much money for riding, and I had to earn the money to ride by babysitting and teaching up-down lessons. Due to money difficulties combined with my sheer terror, I lost my desire to ride and quit.

Fast forward 23 years, after college, an MBA, marriage and two children, my daughter at age eight wanted to take horseback riding lessons. My husband and I agreed that we would enroll her in lessons and Pony Club. This began the next phase of my riding career. I tried to help my daughter with the grooming of her pony, to which she promptly responded that in Pony Club, she was not allowed help with her horse management and that if I wanted to do that, I should take lessons myself. She was a very smart cookie, getting her mother back into riding. I started lessons that led to a five-year career in eventing. The first year was quite rocky for me, with my daughter usually getting better scores than I did. For the next two years my daughter and I went to two events a month and things got better.

By facing my fear of jumping and riding in general, I was able to move past the trauma of my accident at age 17 so many years ago and face fear in a much more productive manner in all phases of my life. At this point horses changed my life forever.

Since then, I have had a number of horses, and each has taught me invaluable lessons. In 1999, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a four-year-old Trakehner named Ricco. He is a beautiful seal-bay with great athleticism and an unbeatable mind. What a gift for an amateur! He was ridden by a professional all the way to Grand Prix, earning many awards along the way. When his trainer went back to Germany, I began riding him in earnest, earning my USDF bronze and silver medals. 

In 2017, at age 71, after many delays caused by joint replacements and cancer for me, and colon surgery and a corneal transplant for Ricco, I rode him in my first FEI test ever in a shadbelly. What a thrill! When he went lame, we were only two scores short of our gold medal. Unfortunately, he was too young by one and a half years to do the Century Club ride. It was around that time that I met Tuxedo’ N’ Tail (Tux) and we began our relationship. His owner, Shaaron McCabe, let me ride him while she and Ricco were laid up. Then Ricco retired, and without a horse, I left the barn we were in. I rode several horses that I leased and finally found a new horse who was way too young for a Century Club ride. My time to achieve that goal was getting short.

Shaaron and I had agreed that we would do our Century Club rides together. When that did not work, Shaaron and Tux did their ride last year. When Shaaron was laid up in January, she offered to let me ride Tux for my ride. What a gift! We began our planning, and with the help of many people, we were able to pull it off on May 13, 2023, at Silverwood Farms, Camp Lake, WI. Tux and I have always gotten along well and with Shaaron’s support, I was the second Century Club ride for Tux. He deserves a medal and much praise for taking the two of us on this journey.