Weston Horses: Tierney Foundation, Events and the Ruth B. Dickson Ring
As some of my readers know from the Iron Horse post in the Owl a couple of months ago and from the Schooling Show post last spring, I have a really soft spot for horses. I love everything about them–the smell of leather, hay, and horse in the barns, their intelligent eyes as they scan the trail or your hands for treats, and the beauty of their silhouettes in the early morning hours in Jericho or Highland forests. Whether or not you are a rider, one can appreciate these strong and personality-filled animals.
Sadly, Weston is losing many of its horses as they move out to cheaper (or fancier) locations. Barns still exist in Weston–Gateways, Dickson, two private barns I know, and of course the chic Beechwood Stables. One on Concord Road was recently removed–this makes me particularly sad as a resident horse there would follow along the back fence as Katie Puppy and I walked the nearby trail. I would say I run into a horse and rider on a trail now only about twice a year–and most of the time it is Darwin, the horse owned by a friend (and sister WFTA trustee). I would looooooooooooooove (enough o’s?) the Case Hillcrest Barn to be bought by horse-y people and we could once again have a “Win” and “Pluck” living there. Here are my thoughts on Hillcrest which never ever get old. As usual, I have digressed…
The Tierney Equine Foundation (TEF) wants to turn back time (in a good way) and bring horses back into Weston, even if they’re not living here. TEF is a non-profit foundation started by local residents William (Bill) and Anne Tierney, and its primary mission is to promote and encourage equine sports in Weston. While Weston was once home to more than 200 riding horses in the 1960s-80s, Paula Nicholas, equestrienne extraordinaire, estimates (and she actually counted them on fingers) 15 are left in town. I have a particular crush on the palomino who lives at Gateways Farm on Wellesley Street.
If you don’t know Paula, she’s a born-and-raised Westonite who works at the Weston Police Department as a dispatcher. Every other spare moment is spent working around horses, caring for three of them at the northside barn where we met last week. Her personal mission is to get more children learning and caring and riding horses, and part of that is her work with Tierney and the upcoming schooling show that will take place at the Ruth B. Dickson Riding Ring on the northside of Jericho Town Forest on Concord Road.
“My number one goal is to give kids a chance to be around horses–there are so many kids who want to learn how to ride, but just don’t get an opportunity,” said Paula.
Tierney Equine Foundation hopes to introduce a new generation to horses, as well as rally the town to protect and care for the places where horses can hit the trails (horses are allowed on all Conservation land trails, and most WFTA-owned land as well).
The schooling show this year has been set for Sunday, May 22, 2022. A schooling show is one where the competition is geared towards inexperienced riders and horses in preparation for more “serious” showings. The rules are less strict and the dress code more casual–it’s like a practice run. The “classes” are walk/trot and walk/trot/canter, and there will also be a costume class. There will also be a games class–I cannot wait to see the egg-and-spoon race (no, I’m not kidding).
In addition to the schooling show, there will most likely be two hunter-pace shows this year–one in late June and one at the end of September. At the planned carriage show in June, there will be mini horses and carriages as well as full-size horses, and clinics for kids at the rings.
After chatting with Paula, and meeting horses Atlas, Gwen and Indie (and avoiding being chomped by Atlas who was hangry waiting for dinner), the Owl flew over to the Dickson rings, newly covered by late snow. It is a wonderful spot, and such an integral part of Weston. The land where the rings sit is actually Conservation land; the fields are mowed by Conservation-paid contractors, but the rings themselves are maintained by Tierney volunteers. The non-profit organization is always looking for additional volunteers– so if horses in Weston is something you care about, please contact Tierney at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their Facebook page. You can read more about the history of the riding rings in this past Owl.
If you walk past the rings and take the footpath (not the fire road) into the woods, you can even find the old equine cross-country course just up a little forested hill from the riding rings. Paula says they would love to recuperate all those old wooden jumps and gates but just don’t have the volunteer manpower. How much fun would that be to see the horses jumping around in the woods again? Perhaps a Stewardship Saturday in Weston’s future? Yes, please. Ruth Dickson, who much loved her horses, would be proud.