By Anna (Ehlen) Stanek
Sue Webster’s love for horses sprung from a young age. From watching Jack, the milk horse, make daily deliveries down the street to creating toy horses with pipe cleaners and shoe polish, Webster was always fascinated by horses. Though she never rode horses as a child, her love for horses continued into adulthood.
In 1969, Webster joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. While in San Antonio, Webster and her fellow nurses would see people horseback riding every Saturday. They decided to investigate and found a nearby stable, where they began to take riding lessons twice a week. Her instructor there was LTC John Russell, who was a world renowned rider in the in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and was a member of the US Olympic Equestrian Team in 1948 and 1952 (none of which Webster was aware of when she met him!).
After her time down in San Antonio, Webster and her husband moved to Columbia, Missouri, to attend Mizzou. Webster got introduced to show horses after finding an ad in the local newspaper for riding lessons. She began taking lessons at Skyrim Stables, with Alice Thompson and Lynn Frazee. Webster eventually purchased two horses from Thompson.
Webster started off showing a Morgan owned by Thompson named Sugar Run Don Star. After showing Don, she purchased her first horse, a Saddlebred named Bourbon’s Golden Sun. She showed Sun in five-gaited show pleasure and learned a lot from their time together. After Sun, Webster purchased a two-year old mare, Penny. Penny and Webster worked with trainer Jim Carey in western pleasure and trail. Though Penny was a great trail horse, she didn’t enjoy the show ring. Webster decided to trade Penny for a green broke colt, Shadows in the Sky. Shadow has been a very dear horse to Webster. Her proudest moments from the show ring come from Shadow and the success they shared in the Trail division.
“I’d taken Shadow to Mike McLaughlin for training when I first got him. Mike taught him the basics, but it was the lessons I’d learned from Alice, Lynn and Jim that enabled me to teach Shadow to be the Trail horse he became. I don’t consider myself a horse trainer in any sense of the word, but somehow, Shadow knew what I wanted, and became quite good at it.” says Webster.
Webster also cherishes the moments she got to represent our Nation’s Colors by carrying the flag while riding Shadow at opening ceremonies at various horse shows over the years including Huntsville, Calvary Episcopal Charity, Boone County and St. Louis National Charity. Webster showed Shadow to much success in western pleasure and trail. Webster retired Shadow in 2012. Though Webster does not show Shadow anymore, she still holds dear all the memories she had from the show ring.
Webster says her favorite thing about riding is “the communication between horse and rider. Riding is a shared experience, not just getting on a horse and going for a ride. The horse is a being, with a brain, and knowing that you can communicate, and understand one another is amazing. I just love it when he’s trying to tell me something and I ‘get it’, or when I tell him something, and he understands.”
In addition to showing with Missouri Horse Shows Association, Webster also held numerous offices. She first started out as Medallion Secretary and then became Show Horse & Pony Point Secretary. She then added on Show Membership Secretary and then Membership Secretary. She was also the chair for Show Horse & Pony Council.
Now that Webster’s retired from MHSA, she’s taken on the position of curator at the Wentworth Military Academy museum in Lexington, Missouri. The alumni of Wentworth Military Academy founded the museum after the academy closed its doors in May 2017. This position is important to Webster, as her son is an alumnus of the academy.
Horses have played an important part of Webster’s life and she has made many friendships along the way. She has gained lots of memories from the horses and people she’s met from riding. Though she isn’t showing right now, she is still supporting her friends in the show ring,“friends I’ve made over the years, the wonderful people I’ve met who will always remain in my life as friends. I’m not going away, and look forward to cheering each and every one of you as you show those lovely horses we all love so well!”