By MIKE PALMER, Prime Times
ROSALIE WENCKOSKI enjoys a unique hobby for seniors, competitive horseback riding.
She has spent the past four summers riding in the Eastern Region Andalusian Horse Club competition in Virginia.
Readers may recall that the decision to follow her childhood dream came while sitting with her mother in the nursing home five years ago, Wenckoski decided to seize the moment and learn to ride competitively at the age of 66.
She had met Mike Schmidt, a horse breeder and trainer and arranged to purchase an Andalusian gelding named “Hombre de Ara’a,” which translates to “Spider Man” in English.
The International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association notified Wenckoski recently that Hombre had received some rather prestigious honors.
With the help of her trainer Mike Schmidt the pair has earned High Point Horse honors at the Eastern Regional Andalusian Horse Classic held last Aug. 20-23, in Lexington, Va.
“I was notified by USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) that Hombre became Farnam Platform, USEF Horse of the Year,” said the equestrian.
The 7-year-old Andalusian champion also earned the 2009 USEF Horse of the Year award in Regions 5 and 7.
Rosalie and her horse were featured in the February issue of Equestrian Official Magazine of American Equestrian Sports,
These awards come as the horse and rider prepare for a new year of competition.
“I don’t start training till end of May for this year,” said Wenckoski.
“My trainer has some kids he takes out to youth state in Columbus at the fair grounds, so when he is done the work begins for both of us, Hombre and me.”
Wenckoski attended the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Organizations Ohio Equine Affaire in April 8 weekend but just worked the booth.
She went in costume to give out information and promote the Spanish horses. “That was kind of fun,” said the ever young septuagenarian, ”I got to meet a lot of people!”
The organizer of the booth asked Wenckoski to go to the World Horse Olympics to work the international booth at Lexington, Ky. at the end of September.
“That is a big deal,” said Rosalie, “I believe it lasts over a week.” She still has not decided if she will take the promoter up on his offer because her schedule is very demanding.
“Our classic show this year is Sept. 3-4-5 on Labor Day Weekend at Virginia Horse Park in Lexington, Va.,” she continued. “That is our club Classic Eastern Regional Andalusian Horse Club and competing there is how we can qualify for the nationals.”
“The bug is in the air asking to go to nationals in October,” she said with some excitement. “We shall see when the get in shape and the season begins if that is in the cards. You really have to be in condition both rider & horse...like a sport!”
Hombre is home now; he will head back to the trainers at the end of May.
Palmer may be reached at email@example.com
ROSALIE?SNYDER?of Bellaire began competitive riding at age 66. Her horse, ‘Hombre’ was named the Farnam Platform, USEF?Horse of the Year recently.