Gallagher family grows through riding

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By Barbara Childs

The Gallagher family, horses included, found a home amongst the peace and serenity of the mountains surrounding Heartwood Farm near Tryon.

There the mountains embrace the farm and pastures with a mist of beauty in all seasons.

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Heartwood Farm has been a wellspring and mainstay for family riding for many years, as John and Jane Gallagher’s daughters grew up with pony club, eventing, trail riding and cross country, as well as jumping with Holli Adams.

“When I first met my husband, John, I introduced him to my horse, General, and he rode him and loved the connection of the horse. He would often come and see me so he could ride General,” said Jane.

Jane loves to ride Aaron, a retired event horse with which she trail rides and does some lower level dressage work. The Gallaghers still own General, who at 31 years, is retired and doing very well, grazing in the pastures and loving life with the herd.

A love of riding and family horses didn’t end with the eldest Gallaghers.

Their older daughter, Natalie, rode her horse Valentino as a pony clubber with the Greenville Foothills Pony Club. Natalie is now in college and aims to become a cardiologist like her father. Once she became entrenched in college academics, she passed Valentino on to her younger sister, Bridget.

Horse and teen have high hopes for their future in riding, too.

Bridget likes to event and she is working on that goal with coach Beth Perkins. At 15, she is an active Greenville Foothills Pony Club member. Valentino is a bay, 11 years old, and an Oldenburg. Bridget is now a C-2 level in her pony club rating and she is going for the C-3 level. Bridget hopes to be an equine veterinarian like Dr. Anne Baskett and she is holding tight to that future calling with working and helping horses.

Heartwood Farm is on the trail system where hunter paces, the foxhunts and trail riders enjoy the scenic landscapes and beauty of the area.

“My future dream with horses is to purchase a broodmare that has been raised in Germany and is in Canada at the present time. She is 16 years old, Hanoverian bay, and she stands at 16.3 hands. This mare is out of Fuerstenball and is in foal. The foal is due in April. I would like to have a young horse to work with, train, and handle. The girls would love the new energy of the youngster and it would be a great family affair to raise the new foal,” said Jane.

Jane has had experience with training and handling young horses, so she looks forward to having the new foal as part of the family farm.

Jane said she thinks having the 31-year-old General, who she has owned since he was 7, and the mare and young foal at the farm would be a good contrast of the old and young growing together and happily learning from each other in the herd.

Jane also owns and rides Lover Boy, a 12-year-old Clydesdale/Thoroughbred cross.  Lover Boy is a tri-colored paint and is like a big teddy bear, according to Jane.

The secret to General’s longevity, she said, is eating well, much retired freedom in the pastures, having the herd near him and having a buddy, too.  Much love and good care are top priority for General as he grazes comfortably in his pastures.