By Britney Grover
Horses are a passion Penelope Ayers has always worked to make a part of her life. As a child growing up in Manhattan, New York, she loved horses and took lessons from the manager of her grandparents’ farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey. Later, she would take a bus to New Jersey and walk a mile and half to the barn, where she worked for time in the saddle. As an avid amateur after college, Penelope has continued to do whatever is required to keep horses in her life—and has contributed to the sport and to others’ experience with horses and other animals along the way.
Penelope has dedicated much of her life to nonprofit organizations, from therapeutic riding centers to the ASPCA, conservation groups and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. She’s also participated in USHJA task forces and committees for over 15 years, all while continuing to ride and show as an amateur. She is currently on the board for Danny and Ron’s Rescue, from which her family has adopted four rescue dogs. With her partner of 32 years and their son, Christopher, Penelope lives in Bernardsville, New Jersey, with their dogs and a large cage of various finches in the kitchen. She has explored painting in the past, and now pursues wildlife photography.
What are your best memories of riding?
My best memories are all from later years; Champion at Washington International in the 3’6” Amateurs on my horse Player in 2008 was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
Any favorite horses over the years?
I have been so fortunate to have had four horses of a lifetime: The Full Monty, Colani, Player and Cezanne. Each one was an incredible partner and soulmate, and they were all totally different from each other. Cezanne is still with me, Player is retired in Florida and Monty and Colani have crossed the rainbow bridge. I cherish every day with Cezanne, who is now 21.
What is your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
The camaraderie of all of us who love horses and understand the emotional connection they have with us.
If you weren’t involved with the horse world, what career do you think you would have picked?
If you could tell every rider one thing, what would it be?
Enjoy every moment with your horse; the joy is in the companionship.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
Photography somewhere with amazing birds
Where is your favorite place you have been? Where would you like to go but haven’t?
There have been many wonderful places, but I would like to go to Japan.
Do you have a personal motto or catch phrase?
Go forward; don’t look back.
Have you had a funny horse moment that still makes you laugh?
My horse, The Full Monty, liked to grab at plants when he jogged in the ring—and sometimes he got them.
Who inspires you?
People with serious disabilities who continue to pursue their lives with courage and grace
What talents do you feel you have?
I’m a good communicator and I have a good sense of color, composition and design.
What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
Jackets—I love different jackets.
What’s your favorite meal?
Tough one… Sushi
Favorite type of pizza?
Pizza with fresh salad on top
What three things can always be found in your refrigerator?
Milk, cheese and wine
Something people don’t know about you?
I’m a bit of a loner; I value my time alone whether working or driving (I drive a lot)!
What would be the best gift in the world?
To have more time with the animals and people I love
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Not getting any older
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
Riding a horse
Photos courtesy of Penelope Ayers