An out-of-practice equestrian who hadn’t been in a saddle for 40 years, and an OTTB mare who never made it out of the starting gate, are living proof that life’s unpredictable paths know no bounds.
And to underscore that point, Marcie Freeman, 59, of Massachusetts and her 9-year-old mare Runaway Song have forged a strong partnership on 6,000 woodsy acres of the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass., where they hack and even occasionally ride “boot to boot” with the Massachusetts Park Ranger Mounted Unit.
“We’ve passed the test to patrol with the Park Rangers, who write tickets and promote the safe use of the park,” Freeman says. “As a member of the Friends of the Massachusetts Park Ranger Mounted Unit, I think it’s pretty amazing that I’m out there on a very large, white Thoroughbred mare … helping to be a visible presence, while they do traffic management.”
Barn name: Willa
Dam: Barbara’s Song, by Runaway Groom
Foal date: March 16, 2006Even more amazing is the fact that she hadn’t sat on a horse for 40 years before she purchased Runaway Song in 2012. And that chose her mare based on a gut feeling for the mare’s personality, and little else.
“When I went to meet the mare a week or two before Christmas that year, I told myself that if she gave me a typical reaction of indifference, I wouldn’t buy her,” Freeman says. “But she came right over to me, hung her head over my shoulder and leaned into my chest. Even though I was scared—I hadn’t been around horses in such a long time—she was just so loving and gentle and kind.”
They started working with a coach 30 days after she got the mare home, giving the animal time to get acclimated. “When I first brought her to my barn, she was so calm and friendly that my coach was suspicious she’d been tranquilized. But after 30 days went by, and we put some weight on her, she was still just as gentle as the day I got her,” she says.
There’ve been a few bumps in the road, including a fall after Runaway Song spooked on the trails. But, the pair has pushed ahead, building their confidence on lengthy rambles through Blue Hills near Boston.