Amateur Showcase: Lord Answers A Midlife Calling For Connection

Sep 23, 2020 - 8:20 AM

Name: Rebecca Lord
Age: 55
Day Job: Owner and manager of Soul Passion Farm, Ocala, Florida

RebeccaLordAmigo
A mental health break spent browsing the internet for horses led to an impulse purchase of Don Amigo and a new life for Rebecca Lord. Annabel Sattler Photo

A Friend For The End Of The World

Six years ago, acupuncturist and medical intuitive Rebecca Lord engaged in a little innocent horse browsing online—a grave, but common error with which anyone reading this can sympathize.

She was in the middle of filing paperwork for her acupuncture license renewal and wanted a break from the tedium. Then 49, she’d recently started taking lessons again for the first time since graduating high school. She didn’t plan to do much with it. But, with her parents aging and a complicated romantic relationship weighing on her mind, she felt like she needed something in which to ground herself.

If not for a few clicks on a dressage sales site, it might have ended there.

“It was like I developed a fever,” Lord remembered. “Up popped this 4-year-old, chestnut gelding, and I just could not get that horse out of my brain. I wanted to get involved with horses like I wanted to throw myself under an oncoming truck, but after 48 hours of possession, my boyfriend at the time said, ‘You know, he is for sale. Why not just go look?’ Of course, I thought that was absurd. But then I contacted the owner, Gunnar Ostergaard, and after five or six more sleepless nights I went to meet this object of my obsession: Don Amigo.

“I didn’t know anything about dressage,” Lord continued. “What’s with the letters? Do they spell anything? I could barely steer the horse when I got on him to ride. None of that mattered. Riding him, I was like a little girl getting on her magic pony. I felt like I had met my friend for the end of the world.”

An Early Sunset On Saddle Time

Lord grew up riding hunter/jumpers on the New England circuit, jockeying into lineups at equitation finals and junior championships.

“I made a deal with my parents that I would stop at 18, so I gave it up when I went to college,” Lord said. “I was heartbroken and also relieved. My parents had an unhappy marriage, and the money had always been just one more stress between them. But also, it was the right time. The last horse I had was called Winter Music, and that year on the Florida circuit we had just the most beautiful ride. I was always a very nervous rider, beset with performance anxiety, and I remember riding across the diagonal for an in-and-out—one of those where you die a thousand times looking for a spot—and I could feel my body close to the rhythm of the horse. It was as though he rolled his eye back to me and thought, ‘Do you want to win this or not?’ I breathed, opened my body, and he snapped his knees so high going over the oxer he hit his crest on my hand. We won the class—beat every single Hunterdon horse, which was a big deal at the time.

“The next week he slipped on a ramp and severed a tendon in his back leg,” she continued. “He came back eventually, but for me that was the emotional end.”

While Rebecca Lord, shown here with Apassionata, didn’t ride much between high school and her late 40s, once she returned to the sport, it quickly became a full-blown obsession. Tara Jelenic Photography Photo

From Ivory Tower To Ancient Medicine

Lord started studying literature at Harvard University in Boston. She had a penchant for the classics—Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy—as well as an ear to the ground on rising stars at the time, like Cormac McCarthy. But a health crisis short-circuited her literary career.

“I fervently struggled with an eating disorder from the time I was 5 years old until I was 25,” Lord said. “In college, it grew severe enough that I had to withdraw. In process of finding my way through what was essentially a medical breakdown, which took a decade, I ended up in Florida. I really had to stop my life to recover before I could go on.”

Part of that recovery led Lord to natural healing practices, like meditation and acupuncture, which aim to engage the mind, spirit and emotions in healing processes. Her treatment was so successful that she eventually applied and earned acceptance to law school, where she planned to study entertainment law.

“I had finally gotten it together,” Lord said. “Then, in the middle of a class on environmental stress management, it hit me like the skies opening: This is what I was meant to be doing. My first thought was, ‘Oh, sh**. Healing? Am I really supposed to be helping people?’ But I saw that I had perception skills medically, and the rest was history.

“My poor parents, when they got the call!” she continued with a laugh. “I knew it was right, though. Sometimes we hide from ourselves, and it takes a good number of years to learn who we are. Whether due to trauma or personality structure, it takes a while to get to the meat of the soul.”

Lord’s calling proved true. After studying acupuncture and complementary and alternative medicine at East West College of Natural Medicine (Florida), Lord spent the next 25 years working her way up from assistant to owning her own practice.

When Kairos Comes To Call, Again

When Lord bought Don Amigo (Blue Hors Don Schufro—Alida, Aleksander) in 2014, she had no more intention of riding competitively than she once had of becoming an acupuncturist. But when the kairotic moment for change arrived, she didn’t hesitate.

“I’m an only child, and when my mother died when I was 50, it was earth changing for me,” Lord said. “I had all these years as a natural healer, but I was also in the middle of this wild resurgence of love for horses. Suddenly, I had the opportunity through my inheritance for an extreme exploration of this passion that had come back into my life.”

In short time, Lord had purchased a small stable and filled it with dressage prospects of all shapes and sizes, including “Migo.” She hired a staff and named the barn: Soul Passion Farm.

With six horses to ride and a stable to manage, Lord took a sabbatical from her practice.

“I’m a 500 percenter,” Lord said. “I was very successful as a natural healer; I did not need to change jobs. I simply experienced a midlife calling that was incredibly strong, and I could not ignore it.”

The transition proved challenging. First, there were those darned letters to learn. Then, there was mastering a discipline that required more finesse than Lord was accustomed to, in a body less cooperative than it used to be.

“All my work as a healer and a medical intuitive—and I know that’s all very airy-fairy to most people—that was all out there in the conceptual realm,” Lord said. “But I also know how to be competitive. I come from New York City, where riding the subway is a competitive endeavor. Horses couldn’t be farther from all that. On the animal, there’s this profound integration of body and mind, this connection right at the flex of the two.

“It’s such a challenge, but then that’s what this was born out of—a soul directed need and desire to connect with myself and with the horses,” she added.

50 Lifetimes Of Riding In Five Years

Today, Lord migrates with mild weather. In winter, she trains from her base in Ocala, Florida, with Judy Oliver and Franziska Seidl. In the summer, she leases a farm in Oxford, Pennsylvania, where she rides with Alex Robertson.

 “I am extremely fortunate that wherever I am, one of these people comes to me to teach,” Lord said. “Six horses are a lot to keep going, and they give enormously of themselves to manage that.”

This summer, she earned a personal best of 69 percent at Intermediaire II on her 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood Tyara.

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Schoolmaster Tyara has taken Rebecca Lord to Grand Prix. BNB Photography Photo

But ribbons aren’t the goal.

“My friends laugh and say this is my equivalent to going to the Himalayas to find enlightenment,” Lord joked. “Riding has become my yoga. I love the idea of creating a union with the horse. My goal, ultimately, is an inspired ride. That might take another year or three years, or I might ride forever! But I have to trust that for now, this is what I’m meant to be doing. I want to squeeze 50 lifetimes of riding into the next five years.”

Lord admits she’s always had a loud inner voice—loud enough to change her course in moments of inspiration. But she challenges the notion that she is alone in that.

“Most of us have a lot of static in our systems, so you have to give yourself permission to really listen to yourself deeply,” Lord said. “Find what you love and do that. If that doesn’t give you enough to put food on the table, then earn just what you need and keep following the trail of what you love until it does.

“And when that soft breeze of what you should do blows by, make sure you listen to it,” she added.

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