My mother first introduced me to horses when I was just a young girl. My family lived a few blocks from a boarding stable. It was love at first sight. My parents could not afford to buy me a horse, but that did not stop me from spending as many hours at that local stable as I could. Some of the horse owners taught me how to ride and also everything I needed to know to care for a horse and how to be a responsible horse owner. The dream of owning a horse finally came true when I was able to buy and support one on my own. It was a happy day when I moved my horse into that very same boarding stable that I spent so much time at growing up.
As a few years went by and I married and started a family, my life priorities changed. There were many years that went by before I was able to renew my dreams and have a horse in my life again. My family obligations and raising my two sons as a single parent while sometimes holding down two jobs came first. I still found opportunities to ride but it wasn’t until a friend asked me to adopt his quarter horse Cody that I knew this was my chance to get back in the saddle with my own horse again.
At this time I owned a small home in the community where I grew up. I had met Rick a few years earlier. Rick would become my future husband. He knew how much I loved to go to my friend’s house and care for and ride Cody. He asked me what my plans were for keeping Cody. Both of us had shared the dream of having a small farm. Well I guess the answer was that we would start looking for that farm. We purchased a small farm in Berks County after looking at so many properties. The house needed a lot of work, but the barn and fenced pasture was perfect for Cody.
Cody settled in very well and it was not long until we introduced him to Cracker Jack a registered Tennessee Walking horse that would become Rick’s ride. We lost Cody at the age of 34 and Cracker Jack is now retired. We now have my awesome Jackson a Tennessee Walker and Missouri Fox Trotter cross and Rick has Jean Claude a Rocky Mountain. We spend many happy hours trail riding and camping with a group of great friends.
I joined the PEC a number of years ago when I saw an ad about the Annual Board Meeting and Issues Forum. Rick and I attended and I was hooked. I knew that this was an organization that would fill me with more knowledge and keep me informed on any new issues that involve being a horse owner. I immediately made new friend and wanted to know how I could become more involved. People like Joan Pauley and Elaine Bish helped make that possible. I became a board member and took over the Recording Secretary position. I also took on the role of Berks County Director and the committee chairman for the Education Grant and Scholarship Committee. I also became a volunteer helping with the Equine Learning Center. Mike Kraft and Skip Seifert were my mentors as I helped educate the children and adults during Farm Show, York Fair and Ag Progress Days.
Now I am about to embark in a whole new role in the PEC as your next President. Board members like Bud Wills and Elaine Winters have been supportive and have helped me become a confident member. Together, along with all of the supportive board members and dedicated members, we can take the PEC to new heights in promoting and supporting our equine friends.
Just like my love of horses started as a little girl, my hope is that with the help of the PEC we can make that dream come true for many other little girls and boys. And remember, it is never too late to own, ride or just enjoy our equine friends.
Thank you for your support and membership.
Gail Eichelberger, President