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80 and Doing –
And Riding – Well

By Judy Van Put
JEFFERSONVILLE — July 10, 2001 – Every once in a while we will hear about, or read about something that really strikes us, and gives a warm feeling inside. I had just that feeling last week when I received a telephone call from Lori Meisner, of Roscoe.
Lori told me about Jean Pfaffenbach, of Jeffersonville, who has just celebrated her 80th birthday. This is great news in itself, to celebrate an 80th birthday, and to hear that the celebration was in the form of a surprise party, hosted by Ann Hill and Barbara Moran, owner of Stone Wall Farm, in Jeffersonville.
The event commemorated a great occasion for a lady who boards her horse at Stone Wall, and rides him several times each week! But even more surprising and heartwarming to hear was the fact that Jean started riding in her 70s — not the 70s, but her 70s!
How many times have we thought of something we’d like to try or take on, and say “if only I was 10 (or 20) years younger.…”
Like the slogan of my friend Steve, of Steve’s Music Store, “Stop wishing, start playing!” That sentiment couldn’t be more appropriately put into good use than in this instance.
Lori told me that Jean owns a Thoroughbred horse named Stumpage, which she calls “Charlie.” She rides Charlie several times each week, and comes to the barn at Stone Wall on a daily basis to groom Charlie and “socialize.” She has competed in several horse shows, both in Jeffersonville and elsewhere. Lori was nice enough to provide us with this photo.
I called and spoke with Jean myself, wondering how it was she began such an unusual pastime during her “golden age.” Here’s a bit of the interview:
“I started riding at Indigo stables when I was 70 years old. My husband had died many years before, and my mother had recently died, and I was lonely. I was doing some volunteer work, when I saw that they were giving riding lessons, English or Western, at Indigo. I started in July, 10 years ago. It was something I had wanted to do all my life, but never did. We didn’t have the money when I was younger, back on Long Island. I used to ride a little on the trails near Belmont, but never had lessons or anything. Then when I was married, my husband was not in favor of it.
“So, years later, after he’d passed away, when I saw the ad, I decided to have lessons and do it right. When Barbara Moran opened her place, I bought my first horse (from Carl Witherel). I had ridden a horse named Gizmo at White Lake, and found out from Carl that he had him, a camp horse originally. I bought him, and he got me started on my career. I went to horse shows and got ribbons with him, which I have hanging on the wall (I’m proud of them!). We showed for about two summers. Then, he got colic and died at the age of 25.
“Then I bought a Thoroughbred from Barbara. He’s now 20. His real name is Stumpage, and he was a former race horse from Florida, and has a tattoo. Barbara had been using him for a lesson horse for awhile. They had named him Charlie, which is a lot better than Stumpage! I ride him about three days a week. I go down every night, and I only live five minutes away. I groom him and give him carrots and spoil him. He’s the most spoiled horse in the barn! We have a good time, Charlie and I. I’m enjoying my life.
“They gave me this surprise party, all the people in the barn. I couldn’t believe it.
“I’m very fortunate so far. I have my health, and I feel good. Riding has done a world of good for me, my blood pressure’s come way down. Having Charlie in a barn full of such nice people and the children, it’s like my second home. It’s best thing I ever did in my life for myself.”
So there you have it. A great lady and inspiration to us all, congratulations Jean Pfaffenbach, on your 80th birthday, and your 10 years of riding. Here’s to the next 80!

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