Shapleigh rides into the Century Club for a third time at Infinity Farm
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Joan Shapleigh and her horse Donatello rode into history when the pair took part in a dressage show at Infinity Farm on Aug. 19.
Shapleigh, 81 of Dover-Foxcroft, and Donatello, 21, have a combined age of over 100 and this statistic enabled them to join the Dressage Foundation’s Century Club once Shapleigh rode the horse for a dressage test and had the performance scored by a judge. Shapleigh became a club member for the third time, riding other horses in 2014 and in 2011 when she became the first Century rider from Maine. At the time Shapleigh was part of the 95th team nationwide to earn the distinction, and she said in the seven years since more teams from Maine have earned the status.
“As of January of last year there were already 226, so it’s probably around 300 right now,” Shapleigh said about nationwide members the day after her latest Century Ride.
She said she hoped to ride last year after turning 80, but Shapleigh had some health setbacks and there was also not a 20-plus-year-old horse available.
“I didn’t ride for over a year but I was determined to get on a horse this year,” Shapleigh said. “I have a very supportive instructor and many horse people friends who encouraged me to try again.”
She said the staff at Infinity Farm are a dedicated group, “I couldn’t accomplish this riding without their help, especially farm owner and lead instructor Gail McCormack and the people who allowed me to ride their horses.”
Donatello is a 21-year-old Arab gelding owned by Morgan Beaulieu who Shapleigh began riding in June. “I’m starting back at Intro level, even though I had achieved my Maine Dressage Society Bronze Medal in 2011 riding first level,” she said, “But at least I’m riding again! I now need help mounting and dismounting due to some weakness in my legs but once I’m on the horse I’m a happy rider.”
Christine Joost served as the judge for Shapeligh and Donatello’s dressage test, and the score was a 64.063. Shapleigh was presented with a gold and black ribbon on Aug. 19 and a Century Club plaque will be made for her.
A number of spectators came to Infinity Farm to watch Shapleigh, including her daughter. “I had several people from my church and several people from the barn and they gave me some lovely flowers,” Shapleigh said.
She thanked McCormack, saying she had ridden with McCormack for 14 years. “I hadn’t ridden in a long time and she just helped me right along.”
After not riding for several decades due to her career as a social worker and volunteer efforts, Shapleigh began to get back on a horse in her late 60s when she moved to a smaller home located next door to Infinity Farm.
The Century Club was established in 1996 by the Dressage Foundation — a national equestrian organization based in Nebraska — to recognize senior riders and horses still active in competitions.