Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 4, 2012

Spirit of Ironstone summed up in 2 words: What rain?

On Sunday, Ironstone Farm hosted its first Annual Barbara DeNitto Memorial Horse Show for riders with disabilities. About 200 people gathered at the Lowell Street facility for the event – 75 of them volunteers. The cloudy day that turned into rain by mid-morning wasn’t apparently noticed as riders entered the ring astride Ironstone’s horses with perseverance and determination. Spectators huddled - no umbrella’s allowed around horses! - with smiles and encouraging applause at every accomplishment.

Not one complaint was heard.

This is what struck me. People who face adversity every day of their lives come to a day that they have worked hard for weeks to prepare for, after some two months of beautiful days, and they are dealt just about the worst weather possible for that time of year. But they don’t care – there are way too many more important things to care about. Like their performance before their families, the good fortune of their teammates, the comfort of their horse, the camaraderie with their volunteer, the eyes of the kindly judge.

And then there was the food … tasting so much better in the rain! For years Ironstone Founder Dick Donovan maintained, “It never rains at Ironstone Farm” – using terms like “a heavy mist”, “Irish dew”, “liquid sunshine” to describe the obvious. For years Ironstone has stood firm on events being held “in all weather.”

But to be there during a rainy day event such as Sunday’s is indeed testament to the claim that “it never rains” – as the undaunted smiles of riders with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities permeate the property, supported by the laughter and enthusiasm of their families – just happy to be there and watch their loved one have the opportunity to compete at a sport they never dreamed possible. It is their spirit that defies the weather – and their courage in the face of adversity most of us can’t even imagine that overcomes a simple obstacle like rain.

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