05 Apr Senior guide: A woman and her horse
Patricia Bryan, 90, cares for a military woman’s Warmblood bay mare
MICANOPY — Patricia Bryan, 90, looks back at eight plus decades of loving horses — the animals that she considers miracle workers. They have helped her through the rough times in life.
“Soul to horse,” she said.
Bryan was born on Nov. 11, 1927, in Cleveland. She lived on a farm as a child and made several moves with her parents. One move was to St. Petersburg, during a real estate boom in the 1930s. She married Jim Bryan, an artist, on Dec. 11, 1946, and the two have a son, Jon, who lives in Micanopy.
Jim and Patricia Bryan lived in several locations including Michigan but were often drawn back to the Interlachen and Gainesville areas. Jim Bryan died many years ago.
Bryan attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland, earning a bachelor’s degree in art history, and later attained her master’s degree in education. She taught from 1968 to 1973 at University College, a two-year program that was connected to the University of Florida.
Bryan started her kinship with horses with pony rides. She began riding English style about age 6, when she got a pony named Peanuts.
She stopped riding about six years ago but has always had a horse to care for. “My doctor is conservative and told me ‘don’t press your luck’ by riding a horse because of the onset of osteoporosis,” said Bryan.
Over the years, her horses have included three purebred Arabians: Destiny, Moon and Red.
Nancy Hengerer, a longtime friend, said Bryan is a “caregiver” whose “love of horses has been her passion forever.”
When Red died in 2016, Bryan felt the void. “I was in agony,” Bryan said. She missed the unique companionship of horse and groom.
About a year ago, she got relief. Charles “C.J.” Stuart, owner of Everglade Equestrian Center in Micanopy, a 40-stall, 30-plus-acre boarding facility off northwest County Road 329, called her. He said a woman in the service who was deployed overseas needed someone to care for Aires, her 32-year-old Warmblood bay mare.
Bryan gladly agreed. Three times a week she gets into her Dodge RAM 1500 pickup and drives from Micanopy to Everglades Equestrian in northwest Marion County. She holds a two-hour grooming session with Aires, complete with apple and carrot treats
Bryan’s “moments of pleasure and happiness were spent riding and caring for her beautiful purebred Arabian horses. (Now) spending her days with the beautiful black mare, Aires, she brings comfort and her special touch to another lucky horse,” Hengerer wrote in an email.
“I love doing it, and horses are great therapists,” Bryan said.
“If you are kind to them, they will be kind to you,” Bryan said as she gently combed Aires’ mane and tail and spoke to him as if speaking to a child, even offering an apology if the brush hit a slight snag in the horse’s tail.
Stuart used the word “beautiful” whole describing Bryan’s kinship with Aires. “It keeps (Bryan) motivated,” he said.