Michigan woman inducted into club honoring senior riders

Natalia Broda
The Oakland Press

Waterford – A 72-year-old Waterford woman and her 29-year-old horse have been inducted into a national club that honors senior horseback riders.

Gloria Crawford and her horse, a Morgan breed named Equinox Ebony Knight, will join 430 other riders across the nation as members of the The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club. To become a member, the ages of the rider and their horse must total 100-years or more and they must compete in a dressage test. Dressage is a specific type of horseback riding competition in which the rider performs a set of predetermined maneuvers.

Crawford, a retired legal secretary, has been in love with horses ever since she was a child, she said. But it wasn’t until the age of 52 that she was able to carry out the lifelong dream of owning one.

“I was the little girl who played with horse figurines instead of dolls, and whenever we would pass a horse in a field driving, I would have to stop and watch,” Crawford told The Oakland Press. “At 52-years-old, I found myself wondering if I was too old for this. And then I thought, if I don’t grab this chance while I can, I’ll regret it the rest of my life.”

Through a sale she found with her sister-in-law, Crawford met and purchased Ebony when he was 10-years-old. He had come from California as a competitive show horse. The two had an instant connection, Crawford said. He was the last horse she saw in the barn that day. They’ve been riding together ever since, competing up until a few years ago.

“It’s a pretty big deal to be inducted into the Century Club,” Kim Robbins, equestrian enrichment trainer at Meadowland Farm in Davison, where Ebony is stabled, said. “The horse has to be pretty old and it says a lot about the people taking care of those horses to get them to that age to show and compete still.”

Crawford rides about two to three times a week, having had both knees replaced in order to keep up the sport into her 70s. She continues to take lessons with Ebony, who she said is still enjoying learning new tricks and maneuvers in his golden years.

“It’s really exciting (to be inducted), I never thought I would have a horse, let alone be of an age to ride one in the Century Club and to ride a horse I’ve known all these years,” Crawford said.