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Mary Watson Misek '63

April 20, 2016
by Mary Watson Misek '63

A city girl in the winter, a farm girl riding draft horses in the summer and then a Madeira girl thrown into the challenging Virginia equestrian scene. Four years at Madeira afforded me an excellent education and a life-long pursuit, plus three mottoes to live by: “Make Haste Slowly,” “Function in Disaster,” and “Finish in Style.”

Snowball, Small Fry, and later, Trial, who came to live with us to educate the next generation, taught me how to ride, lead a 34-horse drill team, how to fall off and get back up. There was Rae Bob Miss who broke my heart when I had to leave her behind to go to college. Of course Mildred Gaines and Madge Barclay steadily guided me thru those tumultuous teenage years and beyond.

During my college years, summers were spent managing stables and teaching riding. A great balance of the cerebral and the physical. After graduate school, my first two jobs had education requirements but it was my interest in horses that landed the jobs and established a career path with the Cooperative Extension Services in Connecticut and New York, as well as oversees in Poland with United States Department of Agriculture.

My children learned life lessons from the horses. As a “back to the lander” they grew up in the country. Kiku and her line of half Arabs and others, taught my children responsibility, work ethic, the life cycle – birth/life/death – and the delights of friendships. Horses were there to listen and share the joys and sadnesses when others were too busy. Now their children come to grandma’s house to commune with nature and climb on Jack, Rascal or Nimo – the pony. (For those with grandchildren in the know, Nimo is named after the famous gray mouse journalist, Geronimo Stilton.) Last year, my kids threw a surprise 70th birthday party on the first Saturday of May, or Kentucky Derby Day, at the local winery overlooking the Black River Valley. To continue the theme, I was at the Belmont to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown. What a thrill!

Now being retired and “long in the tooth,” I have time to further my passion. Horses are allowing me to continue to ride/drive, meet new people, re-connect with friends and roommates, and work on projects. We (Bill and I) have taken Large Animal Response Team Trainings and are founding members of the Friends of Otter Creek Horse Trails (www.friendsofottercreekhorsetrails.com).

We have bought property on the Otter Creek Horse Trails system located on the edge of the Adirondack Park in New York State. The properties all need lots of work to build stables, paddocks, pastures, wood sheds, fire pits, camp sites and lodging options. The area is a playground for recreation enthusiasts with 65 miles of state maintained riding trails, lakes and streams for kayaking, swimming or tubing, and miles of hiking opportunities. Winter affords time to snowshoe and catch up on things around the house. Of course, I need a project; so for the last few years I have been creating the Otter Creek Horse Trail Map not only for the horseback riders but also in case of an emergency for first responders. The map can be updated electronically as the trail system evolves. The latest map can be downloaded and saved to your smart phone and is accessible from the Lewis County NY, the Lewis County Chamber, and the Friends of Otter Creek web sites.

This year, a hard copy version is being developed for distribution.

Thru life’s twists and turns horses have been part of the journey. Horses have provided the purpose, the framework, the foundation for a balanced physical and cerebral life. Thank you, Madeira.