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Team #690 Nancy Reale and A Pretty Penny

Team #690: Nancy Reale and A Pretty Penny
From: Rochester, New York
Ages: 77 & 26
Combined Age: 103
Test: Training Level Test 1
Date: September 3, 2023

I think I was born with the horse-crazy gene.  From early on I can remember begging for pony rides and any opportunity to be near the four-legged beasts.  When I had the opportunity to take regular lessons, I happily spent my free time at the barn grooming creatures that needed a little extra attention.  As soon as I was competent enough to teach lead-line lessons, I was able to pay for more of my own instruction.  Fortunately, being at a barn with many young horses, I was afforded the opportunity to catch ride frequently in the local hunter shows.  I wanted the spirited, uneducated equines.  I was super happy to jump anything and find ways to survive the experience.

Unfortunately, college, graduate school, marriage, and the birth of three lively sons prevented me from riding again for the next 16 years.  It wasn’t until my four-year-old son, Will, announced that he would like to ride, that the addiction returned!  Within a few years, we had a truck, a trailer, and two horses.  Traveling up and down the East Coast, we joyfully indulged in the sport of eventing together.  Through hard work and perseverance, we both were able to succeed at the preliminary level.  

When Will left for college in 1994, I continued with a series of horses both in eventing and the jumpers.  The only time I had to aggressively kick myself to ride was when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 20 years ago.  The prognosis was bleak, but here I am to tell the tale.

In the last few years, I reluctantly decided to stop competing in eventing and focus on dressage.  Double hip replacements and a wonderful life with a loving husband, sons/wives, and 10 grandkids, led me to question why I was so obsessed with galloping cross country through pouring rain and somewhat questionable footing.  My current horse was not purchased as a dressage horse, and her confirmation did not invite serious dressage success. However, with the help of instructor, Sandy Hider, herself a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medal recipient earned on a difficult mare she trained herself, we have just managed to receive our USDF bronze medal! Doubtful that a silver is in the future, but who knows!

I thought I had reached the top of the mountain when I returned home with the final Third Level score to procure that medal.  Then a fellow barn member asked me if I would like to ride her steed, A Pretty Penny, to achieve admission into the Century Club.  What a way to end a year!  This mare, as described by Sandy who knew her as a four-year-old, used to be a terror to ride – perhaps something I would have enjoyed in years gone by.  She has matured though, and many riders, both junior and adult have learned to ride as a result of her patience.  How lucky I am to have Penny to achieve entry into this prestigious club.  Thank you, Anne Gohlke for your generosity!  I will treasure this award.  It represents a life filled with exceptional equine adventures that have kept me young and excited about getting up and facing every new day!