Fulfilling a dream on horseback in the golden years

“DON’T give up your dream!”

That’s the advice of a Bellaire area woman whose determination led her to follow her dream at the age of 66.

And Rosalie Wenckoski has been living that dream for more than seven years as she competes in horse-related events.

After she had fulfilled varied family responsibilities, Wenckoski said she decided, “Then, it was my time.”

Competing in horse shows was something that she had wanted to do for years, and she plans to keep it up indefinitely as long as she can get to the competitions.

Wenckoski with her horse, Hombre Arana, an Andalusian gelding, is looking forward to competition in August and Labor Day weekend in Virginia.

In addition to varied riding awards received by Wenckoski and Hombre, she was honored last year by the Bellaire High School Alumni Association with an achievement award “for outstanding work in the field of sports.” The 1956 Bellaire High graduate was the first to receive an award for competitive horseback riding from the association.

Noting she’s “really pleased and honored” about the alumni award, Wenckoski said, “It was really a surprise.”

Pointing out she’s involved in a very competitive sport, she added, “I’m an amateur.”

The alumni group pointed out that Wenckoski and Hombre are “forces to be reckoned with.”

Their awards have been varied – and numerous – over the years. She and the horse work with a trainer from West Virginia, and the trainer also is involved in the competitions. The Bellaire area woman also works with the horse and trained him to do the Spanish Walk.

Wenckoski said Hombre has placed every year in the United States Equestrian Federation’s “Horse of the Year” competition.

Hombre last year was national champion in the Open Andalusian-Half-Andalusian/Lusitano Working Western Competition.

Wenckoski earned a third place nationally in the Andalusian Amateur Western Pleasure competition in both 2011 and 2012. She and the horse earn points in a variety of events during the Eastern Region Andalusian Horse Club’s Virginia Classic in Lexington, Va. They also compete in smaller shows elsewhere.

In 2012 alone, Hombre earned three Region 6 Andalusian championships in Virginia, including Amateur Western Pleasure, Open Western Pleasure and Specialty competition as well as being named grand champion in two categories and reserve champion in two competitions as part of the horse club’s year-end awards.

Possibly, the Bellaire area woman’s success with Hombre stems from what she likes best about riding as being something that she accomplished herself and being “in harmony with the horse.”

Hombre is home now on the Wenckoski farm near Bellaire, but he’ll be back in West Virginia this summer before the competition.

Horseback riding is nothing new for the Bellaire area woman, and she also recalls hitching up a team of horses with her uncle and going out to get a load of hay.

Hombre isn’t the only horse that Wenckoski owns. Indicating that she and her husband, Jim, have “an old horse still hanging on,” she said that horse would rather eat than walk. The horse was acquired in 1984.

Horses aren’t the only interest of the Bellaire area woman, who is described as the “proud mother of four children and proud grandmother of four grandchildren.”

A member of the Belmont County Saddle Club, she was the club’s treasurer for nine years. In her help to area youth, she had served as a swim coach for Bellaire, Martins Ferry and Shadyside.

Wenckoski currently is the administrator for the National Imperial Glass Museum.

Although she has Imperial glassware, she doesn’t have a collection of the famous company’s horse figurines. Apparently, she prefers the real thing.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.