Still riding, still carrying on, at 72


To the Editor:

I always loved horses, would run as a child to see horses past my home on Clevelandtown Road, part of my grandparents’ farm, the John Prada Farm, now called Bitter Sweet Farm. Looked for that pony every birthday and Christmas but never got it. Started riding at Pond View Farm at 14, owned at the time by Marjorie Manter.

When she said my friends and I could take her horses for the winter, my parents still said no, unless we could find a place to keep them. So we did. We asked all over Edgartown, until we found an unused barn at Katama we were told we could use.

We went to work building our stalls, cleaned it all up and rode the horses down from West Tisbury at the end of that November. We could keep them until the first of May, during the worst time of the year. But we didn’t care, we were out riding in snow and cold until our jeans froze to our legs and stood upright by themselves on my mother’s kitchen floor.

Once my dad, Ray Prada, saw I was going to do it with or without his help, he rebuilt the stalls we had in our barn for the draft horses, before the farm was sold, and I brought my pony, Rebbie, home. The next year, I brought home a larger paint, and we cut down trees to make fence posts, and dad re-fenced the field behind our home for her.

After a time raising a family, riding others’ horses when I could, my daughters were old enough and having lessons at Featherstone Farm. I bought my first, very own horse and one for each daughter. We showed at the Fair and at our local farm shows, and rode the trails.

In the 1970s, we started the first M.V. Horse Council. We had very good shows, with real off-Island judges, eventing, jumping, dressage, Western shows, games. I was the only 30-something mom riding with kids. We had a show every other Sunday, May through October, and farm shows and events in between. I rode to all the shows, 5:30 in the morning, halter and lead around my waist, not many trailers in those days. I rode from Oak Bluffs to Sweet ‘N’ Water in Edgartown, Misty Meadows and Scrubby Neck farm in West Tisbury. We had an all-Island cookout at the State Forest.The kids had an Easter Egg Hunt, all on our horses. Misty Meadows had 25-mile competitive rides.

After a severe leg fracture, thanks to my golden retriever, three miles out in the State Forest in February of 1988, leaving me to crawl for three hours, a bad auto accident on my appaloosa in 1993, and severe wrist fracture from a paddock fall in 2010, I got right back to riding as soon as I possibly could.

Now still riding my own horses 58 years later at age 72. Things hurt, I’m a little stiff but can still throw a leg over a horse, and will as long as I can do it.

Judith Prada-Counsell

West Tisbury