“90 Years Young”

After over seventy years in the saddle, Joan began having trouble mounting her horse without assistance, so she reached out to Forward Stride and began taking lessons. Now, a decade later, at 90 years young, she continues to take weekly riding lessons at Forward Stride. Joan’s pursuit to be horseback inspires everyone who has the opportunity to watch her ride. Read on to see how weekly riding lessons at Forward Stride have become the “primary joy” in her life!

Joan began riding at 11 years old and tried out many different types of riding: live hunts, jumping, gaited, western, rodeo, and even rode pairs with her mother! As an adult, she continued showing her horse as an amateur owner until it sadly passed away at 24 years old.

Joan riding as a child
Joan jumping a horse as an adult

Disclaimer: All photos featuring Joan riding without a helmet were not taken at Forward Stride events and were taken  in the 1940’s and 1950’s when helmets were not widely available for equestrian sports.

Joan reflects on some highlights of her equestrian career:

I have ridden on a ‘live’ hunt while in the Equestrian Program at Stephen’s College where I also continued to show hunter jumpers with a few members of the US Olympic Team! I competed in local horse shows and won a Perpetual Trophy at the Civic in 1949 that my daughter also won in 1975.

Joan jumping white horse
Joan riding Sindar

These days, Joan lives with her daughter, Julie, who helps her with daily tasks like cooking, shopping, and driving. This includes making the drive out to Forward Stride every week! 

Joan says:

I try to stay as active as I can, but I need assistance with daily living. Riding enables me to keep as active as I can be. My love of horses and the amazing staff at Forward Stride have been the primary joy in my life these past years. Riding keeps me wanting to live.

Joan racing a horse

Joan hopes that Forward Stride can “continue the incredible, diverse work that is being done in so many aspects of riding and therapy for people of all abilities”.

Edit to add: Joan’s daughter Julie, shared ” Because of the meaning Forward Stride has given to her later years in life, mom (Joan) was thrilled to have her story included in the Trails to a Brighter Future series. She stayed with us for her “photo op” to complete her article but, sadly, peacefully passed away days later.”

Julie has donated $300 in Joan’s name and encourages “everyone/anyone to match this gift to an amazing program.”

Forward Stride’s mission is to “enhance quality of life through horse-centered activities and therapies.” Joan is a remarkable example of our mission at work! Donate today to continue the longevity of our programs, so Forward Stride can become “90 years young” just like Joan!