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Horse Crazy

story by Nathan Papes

Sandy Lipford stands where she saddled her first horse, Miss Sun Glow, 49 years ago.

Together, Sandy and Miss Sun Glow built Sandy Creek Stables, located on the same piece of land on the edge of town where she grew up. Generations of riders have passed through the gates, learning to ride and care for horses.

When Sandy was 10, her parents gave her Miss Sun Glow for Christmas. “She was really my first show horse,” Sandy says. “She lived to be 25 years old, and when I stopped showing her, she became my lesson horse. She taught a lot of little girls to ride and show a horse.”

Today, horses with names such as Moon Rapper, Fabulous Flash and Awesome Ace fill the stable stalls. While the horses may be different, some faces look familiar.

"The kids I taught, I now have their children," Sandy says.

Her start in teaching, at age 16, came from a love of horses but also out of necessity. 



“I had a truck with no gas,” Sandy says.  



Now, Sandy teaches for the joy of passing down what she has learned. 



“I can identify with the children who are just horse crazy,” she says. “To see a child suddenly acquire the skills to ride and the self confidence that comes over their face when they make the horse post by themselves, that’s the satisfaction.” 

Running a barn and teaching isn’t just a job for Sandy, but a way of life, which she never could have imagined the first time she took Miss Sun Glow out for a ride all those years ago.

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When she was 12-years-old, Sandy started showing her first horses, and by the time she was 16 she started teaching riding lessons.

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For 39 years, Sandy has been married to her husband, Patrick. They have two sons: Andy, 29, and Tommy, 23. Sandy eats lunch while Andy prepares his food.

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A horse named Flame shows his teeth as girls entice him with treats.

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Every year Sandy teaches about 10 girls to ride, with each girl taking lessons from her for three to five years.

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Sandy Lipford lends a helping hand to Caroline Noneman, 13, as she puts a halter onto a horse named Awesome Ace.

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As a lover of all animals, Sandy currently houses 10 horses at the stables along with two miniature horses. She also has a dog named Rusty and about 16 cats. She has had a variety of different animals over the years.

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As she waits to close a gate, Sandy watches as her students, from left, Kristin Kimmel, 14, Grace Burch, 14, Abbie Peck, 13, and Abbie Smith, 17, ride past after a short trail ride.

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Bonds are built, not just between the girls and the horses but between the girls who take lessons there. "I don't know what it is about girls and horses, but it's deep, and when they got it they don't generally grow out of it. Which most parents hope they will," says Sandy.

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After turning the horses loose in the afternoon, Sandy relaxes on the couch with one of her cats, Toby, and her dog, Rusty, nearby on the floor. "I just enjoy what I do, but it gets harder physically every year," says Sandy.