PVDA Ride for Life

Message from Barbara Strawson

2018 Ride for Life


When I saw that the theme for the 15 year Ride for Life was “Passion”, I was immediately brought back to the first year of the Dancing Horse Challenge.  I had ridden in the Ride for Life a couple of times before and was very happy to support the cause.  But the Jill Hassler Scoop Memorial Dancing Horse Challenge was born from a passion not only for the cause, but a passion for honoring my mentor Jill Hassler Scoop, who had died in 2006 from inflammatory breast cancer. 


The word ‘passion’, or really the feeling it gives me evokes so many memories. It also reminds me of the numerous ways that passion plays a role in my life as a horse lover first, horse trainer second, and instructor, third. In this order because I do this as a profession because I LOVE horses and the rest has followed.  Jill was an integral part of my ‘growing up’ as a trainer and teacher.  After she died, I wanted to use my passion for horses to bring good to others and to honor Jill.  Jill was very passionate about horses and education.  She loved horses so much and was such an advocate of their safety and well being, I honestly think this is what fired her passion for teaching, even more so than the love of teaching. But she most definitely was a passionate teacher.  


How could I honor this?  I love the combination of music and horses. The artistry of riding a beautiful freestyle can evoke such inspirational feelings for the rider and the spectators. The sheer power and beauty of a horse can be breathtaking. Matched with music and a harmonious partnership with a rider, everyone can get a very powerful and uplifting feeling.  This is what I wanted to do.


So we created the Jill Hassler Scoop Memorial Dancing horse challenge.  I remember the excitement of the first years. There were so many connections and parallels that we were all so passionate about –  Loving horses, helping raise money for the cause, knowing what healing powers horses have in so many ways, remembering our past loved ones and feeling the hope of how our part in the chain could help. All of those emotions swirled around in those first days of the DHC.  While making that first tribute freestyle, we would often break out in tears – of sorrow for our passed loved ones and for those struggling with breast cancer or with tears of hope and joy as we came up with ideas and made plans for those first DHCs.  


All of these thoughts came to me and swirled around in my memories of the first years of the  Ride For Life – no doubt there was passion there.   I will be excited to see how the passion is reflected in this 15 year Ride for Life Anniversary.

Barbara Strawson