Not many of us can say we’ve had a four-legged friend for 20 years, starting when we were six. And this is a four-legged animal that’s pretty hard to “crate” around the country.
But that’s a proud proclamation from Katy Coombs, the newest member of the 4-H Foundation of New Hampshire. It began when Shadow, her now 20-year-old Morgan, was born at her home in Sandwich.
Shadow was her horse from that moment on—as she trained him in his formative years, as he traveled with her to Sweet Briar College in Virginia, then a horse farm in Virginia, a therapeutic riding school in New York, before coming full circle and returning home to New Hampshire with Katy.
Training was a process for both, but a continuing thread throughout was a connection to 4-H, and one of the reasons Katy decided it was important for her to become a 4-H Foundation board member.
She joined 4-H when she was five, and while working with horses was a focus for her, she also did sewing and crafts. She became a junior leader in high school, continuing until she was a sophomore in college.
“I feel a lot of what I have today is due to 4-H,” she notes. “I hope I can make kids feel the way I did.”
Katy has two brothers, one an aspiring photographer who works in the family business, and one who is serving in the Naval Special Forces. Her entire family was involved in 4-H as she was growing up, including one brother who, she laughs, even did sewing.
That Shadow is a part of her life is unquestionable. He was part of the equestrian team at college with her, served as a therapeutic horse while she worked in New York, and continues to “teach me a lot about myself. That’s why horses are so effective at therapy,” she adds.
Katy, who is now a loan officer for Yankee Farm Credit, remains active in the Morgan horse world. Earning not only a business degree from Sweet Briar, she also received an equestrian certificate in training and school horses.
After work at Yankee Farm Credit in White River Junction, Vt, she often hops into her car, along with her Llewellyn Setter, Hank, and heads to Bradford, Vt., where she continues to train Morgans at the renowned Newmont Morgans. The horses range from newborns to two-year-olds, and she feels fortunate to keep her hands in the training of this breed.
As for the 4-H Foundation, Katy’s already jumped in with both feet. She scooped ice cream at the NH Farm and Forest Expo as a 4-H Foundation fundraiser, and immediately joined the Foundation’s sub-committee for the 14th annual Tom Fairchild Friend of 4-H golf tournament coming up on May 12.
Even though, she laughs, “I don’t know golf. It’s a foreign language to me!”