by Polly Elliot
When Dick Schneider was in high school, a close friend talked him into galloping horses at Belmont Park. Having mounted his first steed at the tender age of 9, Dick had riding experience from a Long Island riding academy, so this unique opportunity just made perfect sense. Not to mention that his home was just down the road from the famous horse park. His day as an “exercise boy,” began each day at 4:45 a.m. It was a summer job that gave rise to a passion that would last a lifetime… the love affair with the horse.
Dick left the Thoroughbreds behind when he began classes at Cornell. In 1949, after graduating, he once again found himself on the back of a horse, as a real life Cowboy. His position was to count and manage beef on a farm belonging to his new wife’s family.
A few years later, Dick left the horse world and began a career with Grumman Aerospace, but his fate was still intertwined with the horse. Not long after he began his career, he was approached by an executive who had an interest in investing in sulky horses, a sport he discovered while on holiday. He sought Dick out, in an effort to find someone knowledgeable in equine management, which would help him achieve his own aspirations. Together they went to Lexington, and bought a trotter at the sale. When the horse arrived home, Dick began exercising and training the young horse. Once again, Dick’s passion was fueled and he began driving and training horses for other people. When he wasn’t working, he was in a sulky training and was truly in his element.
Seventeen years after Heathcliff began working with Dick, Heathcliff moved to a horse retirement home in Florida, which was difficult for Dick. On previous occasions he had turned down attractive offers for this prize horse. For Dick, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the passion. It had always been the passion for the horse.
Recently, Dick Schneider moved into Brandywine Assisted Living, and Director of Community Relations, Kathy Jacobs noticed that Dick seemed to be missing a spark in his eye. She explored his stories, listening carefully for clues to things that made Dick smile. When she discovered there was a true life’s passion that was disconnected, she made arrangements with a local horse facility, Whimsical Equine Rescue, for Dick to visit and interact with the horses. That missing spark was quickly rekindled. Dick visits the horses, as often as possible and that equine
connection, not just to his past, but to his Heart’s Desire have once again renewed his life.
Dick Schneider’s story is simple, but the message is huge. Stay connected to your passion as you live your Grand Years. Passions are extinguished when you let them go. Dick’s best advice after 84 years…keep living your dreams.