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Team #462 Kathleen Ryan and Shades Bay Blaze

Team #462 – Kathleen Ryan and Shades Bay Blaze
Ages 72 and 28
Combined age: 100

I was a full-time elementary teacher for 42 years.  Three children and family did not allow me the opportunity to realize the dream of learning to ride until I was 48 years old.  My journey with Blazey began 19 years ago, shortly after giving away my first horse, a 6-year-old wild, crazy, and very difficult Saddlebred mare.

A friend suggested that I lease one of her horses to fill my horse void.  I graciously accepted, and that was when I met Blaze.  He was a beautiful 9-year-old gaited Spotted Saddle Horse, who, at that time, had had 6 different owners in his life.  My husband, skeptical at first, since my first horse and I were not a good match, was reluctant for me to try again.  However, I soon realized we were meant to be in each other’s lives. Our relationship began by slowly and patiently developing a trusting bond with each other that continues to deepen each and every day. 

A short time later, our good fortune led us to a new facility that stabled 80 horses of varied disciplines.  It was there that we started our new path of learning with trainer Sarah Pinney.  We both started regular training and lessons encompassing the basics of riding.  Whatever focus Sarah and Blaze worked on, my next lesson with him would reinforce that same skill.  Sarah possesses an innate understanding of, and experience with horses.  She is kind and patient with high expectations and still continues to guide and encourage our growth even now.

Our experiences throughout the years together have been many and varied.  Evelyn Meyers, another caring trainer, has dependably supported both Blaze and I throughout my busy teaching career.  While teaching, at the end of each year, I would bring my entire class to the barn for a field trip with Blazey.  Often, it was the first time the children had ever come in contact with a horse.  It was then I discovered how amazingly kind and tolerant he was with children.  Evelyn would take each child for a ride around the arena on a lesson horse, while Blazey would stand like a beautiful statue accepting many loving little hands. 

We have been able to participate in lessons and informal quadrille sessions with up to 8 horses and riders instructed by Rodrigo Matos, a well-known principal rider at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.  Blaze has also become an experienced and steady trail horse, who has given confidence to and guided many other horses on the trails around our facility.

We heard about the Century Club a couple of years ago, and it soon became our goal.  In order to achieve this goal, we would need to stretch our skill set by learning to ride a Western Dressage test which would accept Blazey’s gait.  Though we had never performed in a show before, we needed to learn to ride a pattern, challenging our skills of geometry and precision.  We are proud and pleased to have achieved our Century Club ride on October 18th, 2020, at our own facility, Peppertree Farms, San Diego, CA.

I recently retired and now have more time to devote to riding.  As our relationship continues to develop, I learn more about Blaze and more about myself.  The Century Club ride opportunity provided the impetus to set new goals to challenge ourselves.  My Blazey, with his intelligence, sensitivity, and strong-willed mind of his own makes me a better rider and person each day.

Kathy and Blaze rode Western Dressage Introductory Test 3 to complete their Century Club ride on October 18, 2020.