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Let's Talk Horses

By Judy O'Brien Van Put
SULLIVAN COUNTY — February 18, 2003 – A few weeks ago, I met a woman at a friend’s birthday celebration.
During the course of our conversation, the subject of horses came up.
Once Marina heard about “Horse Talk”, she eagerly encouraged me to contact her mother, Mary Anne Barulich, of Reno, Nevada, who is still riding horses.
In addition to all the interesting things Marina told me about her mother, the most notable stories center around her beloved Lipizzan, nicknamed “Luv”. As Marina started to tell me about Luv, I realized I had read a story about him, and also about Mary Anne, in the December 2001 issue of Equus Magazine!
This incredible horse and his owner (and Marina) drove through a blizzard to answer an ad in the newspaper which stated, “Support the Nevada Humane Society: Have your pet’s photo taken with Santa.” I couldn’t wait to “interview” this plucky lady and share her stories with the readers of this column.
Mary started riding as a teenager, having always been fascinated by horses in the movies and in parades. In grade school she loved sketching horses in the Prince Valiant comic strip. While she started riding Western dude horses, she then joined an English riding group at the St. Francis Riding Academy in San Francisco, and rode under the mastery of Captain Ted Voight, a retired U.S. Cavalry officer. The students were taught many cavalry movements and an 18-horse drill team was established.
Mary described her riding instructor as “tough but dedicated.” When the students performed, he would put all the horses’ names in a hat from which they would draw. The students never knew which horse they would be riding. Mary described how those years influenced her love of horses and riding, the camaraderie in horse groups, conquering fears by learning how and why a horse thinks, feels, reacts. She stated that “the rides through the Golden Gate Park and along the San Francisco Beach will ever remind me of how fortunate I was as a city girl and explain why horses and the lure of the outdoors molded my life.”
She described how horses were always in her life. Even her children, Marina, Matthew and Jerome, rode. Marina loved jumping and later, her horse followed her to college – both at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the University of Florida at Sarasota! The boys, however, were the Western riders.
“With horses in our back yard, so to speak, we not only enjoyed them, but learned much in the responsibilities of maintaining a healthy environment for them,” Mary explained. “This phase of my horse life is special, lots of comedic happenings. Learning all about backyard horse care, for one! Watching my children progress, going camping on our horses in the mountains with little experience but lots of trust! The excitement and joy of riding in local Rodeo parades, showing Western, English, Jumping, Trail.”
Marina and her horse enjoyed six weeks of intensive training in jumping and three-day eventing at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center.”
The main story, however, is about her Lipizzan. Siglavy II Dubowina was just turning 4 when he came into Mary’s life in 1981. He had the barn name of Luv, as he was, indeed, a “love.” He was bred at Temple Farms in Wadsworth, Illinois, had been gelded and was a green broke, dark dappled grey with jet black mane and tail, and turned white (grey) by the time he was 12. Mary decided to minimize doing dressage at that time, believing that riding in circles over and over again can be boring to a youngster. So, as a member of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, she schooled him in Sensory Training, Police training, Search and Rescue, cattle driving, crowd control, and rode in many parades in Nevada and California.
“I truly believe it was this initial exposure to the Posse training that mellowed Luv,” she said. He became such an example of willing obedience. I was often called upon to ride him next to a skittish horse. I learned early on not to force Luv into anything, but just wait until he makes up his mind that going forward was safe. On a 20-mile March of Dimes ride close to the finish line, a woman rode up next to me and remarked, ‘I’ve been watching your horse and he sure takes care of you.’”
To be continued.

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