Opportunities to perform were scarce in comparison to the demand for airbrushed artwork on motor homes. My life with the horse and mule between periods of work frenzy, settled into something that resembled a hobby. During the summer, my animals were up north in Michigan and during the winter they were with me in Florida.
By this time, due to encouragement by Dorita, I began to work spring and fall – before and after River Ranch – with her protégé in Gainesville, Florida. Kathy Daly provided training for my horse in addition to the riding lessons started by Dorita. Kathy’s farm was a lovely wooded area filled with old oak trees. The situation at Kathy’s stable offered lots of camaraderie, due to the abundance of horses, students from the University of Florida and the nearby horse show facility called Canterbury.
Kathy had the distinction of being the trainer and dressage rider of a famous horse. Mistie’s Twilight is the title of a book written by Marguerite Henry. The true story is about Dr. Sandy Price and her children who acquired a horse at the Chincoteague pony sale.
With Dr. Sandy as her patron, Kathy trained Mistie’s Twilight into a dressage horse. This talented duo scored high at all the regional dressage shows. They eventually achieved the level of Prix St Georges. Several times during the years I worked with Kathy, I rode Twi who also became one of the Breyers Horses – plastic statues of famous horses. I enjoyed many moments observing the harmony of Kathy on Twi as they prepared for another dressage event. Observing advanced horsemanship accelerated my appreciation and awareness of the skills utilized.
Souveran had a friendly personality and proved to be a playful escape artist. Upon settling into a stall, he first investigated the integrity of the fastening device on the door. A sliding latch he could reach with his lips was open in a short time. Having escaped, he found grass nearby or went directly into an abundance of girls to receive affection.
The criteria for my lessons was suggested by Dorita. Under Kathy’s watchful eye, my command of this horsemanship art form continued to develop. Training sessions with other horses often coincided with my being on horseback. Kathy and I rode in the arena together. We attended to her hand on particular tasks on our horses while we observed, reported what we saw and interacted with each other with jocularity the whole time.
Dorita had a patron near Kathy’s farm with a guest house. She occasionally traveled up from Sarasota to teach. When in our area, Dorita came to Kathy’s to observe our progress and reflect.
One of my all-time favorite memories occurred one picture-perfect autumn day in the shady setting at Kathy’s stable. In the soft pattern of leafy shadows, the sandy arena under tall trees provided a picturesque place for our riding to take place.
At an observation bench at one end of the arena, Dorita sat flanked by Kathy and Wendy, the tall event-rider who ran Canterbury. My observation point was on Souveran. I demonstrated my progress to my mentor. I still recall those beautiful ladies beaming up at me with shining faces. They looked up with affection and awe during that special chapter of my life. The growth taking place in that oak hammock was evident to all of us that day.