The glue that binds. That is what the American Saddlebred Horse and industry is to many. This is true of four friends that met over 35 years ago, because of their love of the American Saddlebred. Cathy Coniglio, Heidi Price Zerivitz, Ellen Olgetree Brooks and myself are these four women. Each of us has had our own journey in the Saddlebred industry and our own journey in life, but remain close friends.
As many of you know, I am the daughter of Tom and Donna Moore and grew up in the horse industry. While pregnant with me, my mother continued to show, and as soon as I could walk I was on a horse. I was a very blessed little girl, to be raised by such an amazing and interesting combination of Tom and Donna Moore. And I was even more blessed to be raised with horses in my life. Horses have introduced me to the people who have shaped my life, and have given me an amazing extended family now that both my parents have passed away. Horses have taken me to places that I would never have gone if a horse-related activity had not taken me there.
Cathy Coniglio is my BFF; we met when she had the wonderful three-gaited horse, Fortunate Commander, in training my mom and sister. My mother introduced us and we were BFFs at first introduction. The journey we have taken together is a book in itself. The horse shows, the trips, the phone calls, the concerts, the basketball games, the many late nights in our early years that were just WAY TOO MUCH FUN! Thirty-five years of adventures!!!! Even though she lives in Florida, there is seldom a day that goes by that we don’t talk on the phone at least once. What has remained constant is our love for each other and our love for the horse. Cathy and her husband, Dave, have a perfect little barn in their backyard where they keep a few favorite horses.
Ellen Olgetree was one of the greatest junior exhibitor riders of her time. With her own unique riding style and her congenial personality, everyone was her friend. Ellen had several horses that my mom either trained or sold her father, including WC Cavalleria, WC Space Walk, WC Traviata and WC Fancy Miniken. Inside the ring, Ellen was one tough competitor, and outside the ring she was a great friend to so many, including me. Oggie, as she is affectionately known to her friends, lives in South Carolina where her love for horses is engulfed in her trail horses and her perfectly built and manicured barn.
Heidi Price Zerivitz was a many-time World Champion equitation rider as well as a performance rider. She showed Fiouricci, Nosey Decision, Wings Casablanca, and Denim And Diamonds to name a few. Heidi lives in Florida with her husband, and her amazing kids are making their way in the world. Her beautiful daughter, Lily, is what recently brought the four of us together in New York City. Lily is in a student at The School of American Ballet (associate school of The New York City Ballet).
We call our trips “girl trips.” Over the past 7 years, our trips have been more frequent. Usually they revolve around a horse show, but occasionally they take us to non-horsey places, like NYC, our most recent trip! The four of us flew to NYC to watch Lily, Heidi’s daughter, perform at The New York City Ballet. We call ourselves Lily’s Godmothers and we are so proud of her. While in the city, we took in the play Waitress, had brunch at the Metropolitan Opera where we were treated to a mini opera concert, and attended The New York City Ballet. Not to mention, great sightseeing and favorite restaurants.
Waking up in NYC, I reflected on just how special it is to have these wonderful girlfriends. And then I realized that, if it were not for our common bond in the American Saddlebred industry, we would have never met. It is amazing to think that a horse could bring four girls together that 35 years later would still be friends, and would take them on many new adventures. Because of the horse, we created a bond that time has not torn apart. We have watched each other mature, get married and have families. We have been there for each other when times are tough. We have laughed with each other when we make fools of ourselves, and we have continued to love and support each other no matter what.
I am so thankful that horses are my life and have brought wonderful people into my life. I am so very thankful for these amazing women who have been lifelong friends. Even though we all live so far apart, we continue to come together to enjoy each other’s company. And we celebrate our love for the horse!