One day I answered the phone and the caller asked, “What is Sweetbrier anyway, a vegetable farm? I tried not to laugh and answered, “Not exactly, it’s a riding school.”
We had all kinds of interesting things happen living in the sprawling, bright yellow Victorian house. For one thing, residents in our little town of Easton said the house was haunted. It’s true my Mom used to hear footsteps in the attic early every morning. Fortunately, once our family settled in, the footsteps disappeared. Another rumor swirled around town. The buzz was a buried treasure was somewhere on the property. My Dad searched for it, but to no avail.
How did we start a riding school? My Dad bought half a horse with one of his friends. We never discussed exactly how the ownership went, but I have a feeling my Dad got the better half. After that, it must have been like eating chips. Remember how they say, “You can’t eat just one?” Before long we had a barn full of horses. My Dad studied about horsemanship and taught his friends.
What was it like growing up at Sweetbrier? It was definitely unpredictable. Even the old pipes in the house were finicky. We never needed an alarm clock because the people who rented the top floor of the house banged on the pipes every morning, trying to wake them up!
My favorite thing was competing in the horse shows. We had amazing memories from a show in Tarrytown, New York. Several of the students participated. My sister, Terri was sharing my horse, “Peach” with me. We each won every class in our division and Holly won everything in sight with her pony Dark N Fancy. Each of the students won ribbons as well so we decided to stop at a restaurant for a snack before heading home. Our big eight-horse van stalled in the middle of the street. Horrors! We called the tow truck to remove it from the highway. By now, it was the wee hours of the morning. The students rode the horses back to the barn where the show was held. Imagine having a patron staggering out of the local pub rubbing his eyes when he saw horses parading down the highway at two in the morning. I wonder if he remembered it in the morning.
We all worked diligently to succeed at Sweetbrier. In my mind, it was the best place in the world to grow up. We learned the value of responsibility and setting goals, among other things. My Dad used to tell us, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” Indeed it is. Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of life at Sweetbrier, what do you think?
See Both Deanie’s Book Trailers Below: