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Team #642 Teri Vierima and Sir Serenity

Photo by Brynn Brujin

Team #642: Teri Vierima and Sir Serenity
From: Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
Ages: 74 & 30
Combined Age: 104
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: May 8, 2023

In praise of older horses.

I am a 74-year-old retired scientist who did not start riding horses until I was in my early 40s. I was a perfectionist then and usually didn’t attempt things that I knew I couldn’t be good at, but despite not being strong or confident or coordinated, I wanted to learn to ride badly enough to try.

After several years of taking group lessons around and around in an arena, a friend told me I should lease a horse and she knew just the one. Enter Quinn into my life. He was an Appaloosa, who was 25 years old when I started riding him. He taught me real riding. Out on the trails, up and down hills, through the woods, cantering bareback. I was heartbroken when the stable closed down and his owner took him back home. He died a year later at age 31.

After a brief stint leasing a Percheron who wasn’t very fond of my inadequacies, I was again steered by a friend to leasing a big 21-year-old Thoroughbred. Enter Flannery. Six months after I started riding him, his owner decided to sell him, so for $1000 I now owned my first horse. He was my dream come true. I started taking dressage lessons to become a better rider [he could actually do flying changes], but my true love was still riding the 400 acres of trails at Green Meadows Stables. We had eight years of joy, until, at age 29, he died suddenly of a heart attack. And my heart broke again.

One more stint on an eight-year-old Pinto who couldn’t stand me. I sold him, and he entered the new, younger owner’s trailer with a big smile on his face.

This time, I put an ad on Craig’s List: “Older lady [63 years old by then] looking for an older horse for regular, moderate English riding.” Lo and behold, I received a response from a woman in Illinois offering me a 19-year-old Palomino Quarter Horse. Her daughters had gone off to school, he hadn’t been ridden in three years, and she was looking for a good home for him. Enter Sir Serenity. She sold him to me for $1. I have had him for 11 years.

Now, cataracts (Sir) and arthritis (both of us) limit our trail riding and cantering, so we have turned our focus back to dressage, which one can do at any age. We both derive a great deal of pleasure from it – me from making progress and him from having a job to do and feeling proud to do it. Under the excellent, patient tutelage of my long-time riding instructor Kate Van Sicklen, we are now doing decent leg yields, shoulder-ins, and turns on the forehand. So, my 30-year-old, one-dollar horse and I now qualified for TDF's Century Club membership. I hope we can continue to have this much fun for some time yet before my heart breaks one last time.

Quinn, Flannery, and Sir. Never underestimate the talent, willingness, and love in an older horse.