Linda caught my eye at HITS Thermal when I spotted a gorgeous dark bay steed and her spry, well-turned out 72-year-old rider in the warm up ring with her lovely daughter, Colorado trainer Laurie Priboth Jueneman. Their story is truly inspiring!

Dolce, a 16 year old Hanoverian mare belonged to Laurie’s longtime customer Dorothy Loughran. Dorothy lost her battle with lung and ovarian cancer this past December. As Dorothy became more ill, she discussed purchase of her two horses with Laurie. She wanted to be sure that they would be properly cared for when she was gone. During Dorothy’s last month in hospice, Linda started riding Dolce. Dorothy greatly enjoyed hearing about Laurie’s mom’s lessons, and her evolving rapport with Dolce. The lessons were going so well that Laurie suggested to her mom that she consider bringing Dolce to Thermal this winter, even though she hadn’t shown in six years partly due to battling cancer herself. But Linda had promised her husband and other daughter that she would hang up her show clothes, after experiencing a couple injuries a few years back.

However, after a family discussion, the family changed their mind, and all supported Linda’s desire to show again with this very special horse.

According to Laurie: “My mother has always been passionate about horses, and was the best horse show mom when I was younger. She didn’t start riding until she was 45. I had gone off to college but she didn’t want to sell the horses, so she started riding them. One thing led to another for her and she went on to wins in Kentucky and competed at the Washington International Horse Show. But more than the showing and competing she has just always loved being at the farm, cleaning her paddocks and trail riding and watching and riding her new Thoroughbred mare Abby, as well as riding her old tried and true horses, Just For Luck and Gone Country. She still rides two horses a day.”

Linda hadn’t jumped three feet in years but had been practicing regularly to get to that point since December. Linda says she completely trusts Dolce and that made stepping back up to three feet easy. She rode extremely well at Thermal and Dolce was a great partner. They had ribbons in every class Week 1 at Thermal including first and second in the older adults which allowed her to be Reserve Champion. Linda took over ownership of Dolce just recently, and she later told me, “this was the highlight of her showing career, to come to Thermal after all this time away with this horse who is a very special gift. We know Dory was observing from above and smiling down, watching her sweet horse. ”

-Winter Hoffman, Thermal, California