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A Way of Life

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Growing up in the 70’s: hard rock, drugs, and the Brady Bruch summed up the most important things in life. But one Wisconsin teen living in this lost era had something else—horses.
Coming from an upper-class family, Debbie was able to have her own barn in her back yard and Pine Lake in the front. She filled the stalls of her barn with horses, cats, and an abundance of baby bunnies, which she would then sell for a dollar each.
Vaulting onto her horses, riding bare-back through the corn fields, and taking them swimming was an average day in the summer heat of 1978.
“My favorite thing to do was ride them in the water and jump off of them as fast as I could before they rolled in the grass to dry off,” Debbie said.
Through raising and jumping horses, Debbie learned about competition and responsibility. She dedicated her life her horses and spent most of her time—after school and on weekends— practicing and going to shows.
Debbie remembers when she was thirteen- years-old her favorite horse had an infected hoof. This horse, Pepperoni, was an amazing jumper with an original personality and a love of M&M’s.
“The vet told us that he would never be able to jump again, but I didn’t give up on him. I nursed Pepperoni back to health and four months later we were competing again.”
But her barn life wasn’t all good. When Debbie was seventeen-years- old, she came home from a normal day at school to devastating news—her barn had caught fire and burned down that day. Her family was able to get two out of the three horses out. But one of Debbie’s didn’t make it. When that horse, Tick Tock died, Debbie had to learn how handle the grief.
“The hardest thing about his death was I never even got to say goodbye,” says Debbie.

When Debbie grew up in the 70’s, horses gave her life purpose.
“Without my barn, I know that my life and knowledge of responsibility would be completely different. My horses relied on me and it was my job to give them the best life possible.”

After high school, Debbie had to sell her horses and move on. She graduated from four years at University of Boulder Colorado with a Bachelor degree in business. Later, she settled down with a husband and her two daughters of her own. Both of these girls took horse-back riding lessons growing up.

“Horses were a huge part of my life and every day I am still thankful that I got to experience that opportunity in my childhood.”



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