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Team #625 Suzanne Kennison and Quincy

Team #625: Suzanne Kennison and Quincy
From: St Simons Island, Georgia
Ages: 76 & 26
Combined Age: 102
Test: Introductory Level Test A
Date: March 18, 2023

My Century Club ride adventure started with an offhand comment to a younger rider who was polishing tack for an upcoming show, “You know, it never ends. Even at 76, I would still love to show again. Take the lessons, do the prep, load the horses.  It’s an incurable disease!”

Almost immediately this message reached the Stables at Frederica’s owner and trainer, Allie Zorn, who exclaimed, “You want to show again? How old are you? Oh, my gosh! You can do the Century Club ride.” Within the next hour, it was official. The news echoed through the barn:  Suzanne, the oldest rider there, was going to show.  She was going to do the Century Club ride!

Great! But then it was time to “get Cinderella to the ball.”  First of all, I needed a horse.  My wonderful horse was age qualified at 25, fit and able, but due to her oral melanoma, could no longer wear a bit.  

“Quincy, of course! It has to be Quincy,” Allie cheered, nearly bowling all of us over with her happiness. Now, Allie Zorn is a no-nonsense, top-notch trainer, who runs the cleanest, most efficient barn and lesson program in the South.  To see her eyes dancing at the prospect of her 26-year-old lesson horse participating in such an honor reinforced for all of us the need for this to actually happen.

Quincy is a legend at and around our barn. A 15.2-hand Quarter Horse gelding, with careers both as a trail horse and competitive jumper, he has twice rejected retirement. The soft life of a cushy stall only brought about a lackluster demeanor and sad eyes that revealed to Allie that his showing days were far from over.  Gently put back to work,  the beloved chestnut is presently a much-adored lesson horse and IEA mount who is happiest teaching riders how to jump, navigate a dressage course, and participate in camps. Now, he had the opportunity to be officially recognized for his dedication and decades of work. 

Wonderful! Suzanne now had a horse! However, what was she going to wear to the ball? 

Like Quincy, I had flirted with retirement. Also, like Quincy, retirement did not suit me.  What was I thinking? Within a year of selling my Kentucky farm, I brought my horse out of retirement and had her shipped to St. Simons, where we became part of the family at the Stables of Frederica. In the retirement process, however, I had sold or donated ALL of my show clothes. I had nothing! Again, like Cinderella’s mice, my barn friends jumped in and in no time, I inherited a jacket, shirt, show breeches, and even loaned-out boots! The latter proved to be the cause of much concern, as zipping up my older calves was easier some days than others! I soon found out that this also takes a village! My husband, Al, was no less enthusiastic, becoming not only my coach but also my cheerleader. 

Now came the training.  Quincy was no problem; he was in great form and quite up to the task.  Suzanne was another story!

At 76, though quite active, my riding consisted of basically moseying around the property with the occasional outburst of a decent trot.  The dressage ring was a distant memory of more than 20 years.  Much work lay ahead, with only four weeks to prepare.  Again, my barn family came to the rescue.  Between formal lessons with Allie (I was scared to death) and great tutelage from trainer Mary Katherine Williams (I almost died of exhaustion during lesson one!) and my younger barn friends lifting me up and giving me tips as I practiced, we reached the day of the show at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center with great excitement and confidence. 

Quincy entered the ring like the prince that he is and carried me through the intro level test as if we were both in our teens (well, maybe me in my 40s or 50s!). We did the salute, curved through the bends, hit the corners, and trotted across the arena, both of us floating on the air of accomplishment.  As we completed our test and made our way to the side of the arena where, in the company of our trainers and friends, the judge presented us with the Century Club ribbon, Quincy and I were both ecstatic and humbled, loving that this was not just our moment but a great moment for all of those who made this fantasy come true!

PS: Quincy also won a blue ribbon in this class! Life is good; horse life is better!