Senor Bogart, a 15.3-hand Quarter Horse, was confused. He was saddled and ready to take his owner on one of their thrice-weekly rides through the western hills. But she was in luncheon clothes, not riding garb.
That’s because Harriet Meyer Quarre, who’s had a pony or horse at the Circus Club for almost all of her 80-plus years, had been entertaining her daughter, granddaughter, and this writer in the Club dining room, regaling them with stories about rides and people, past and present. But her riding clothes were at the ready, and Harriet was soon readying to load the horse into its trailer and take off — driving the truck herself.
“You know,” she’d said at lunch, “horses don’t change their spots. They mellow a bit and don’t act up as vigorously, but they still misbehave.”
There are photos of Harriet and her horses throughout the Club, one located in of all places, the men’s room. There is young Harriet, looking radiant, surrounded by a group of adults, holding court at The Shack, then at Searsville Lake. “We rode to the Shack from the Circus Club in those days,” she said. “Everybody went — boys and girls, moms and dads.”
While she’s ridden all her life, she’s mostly avoided the show ring. “I had a wonderful little pony when I was quite young and we showed in family class,” she recalled. “And I did learn how to drive. But people told me I wasn’t very good at it, that I had nervous elbows.” She did compete in cattle penning, giving that sport up just a couple of years ago.
For about 25 years, which Harriet calls the “tuition years,” she was away from horses. But once the kids were off, she got back into equestrian activities during the 70s and started riding all over the world. Now she trailers to the Shack or heads to Windy Hill or Wunderlich. She also goes farther afield, to places like Point Reyes where there is a horse hotel, where the horses sleep downstairs and the riders upstairs.
Asked about her lifelong attraction to horses, Harriet replied: “It’s an interesting question, and there are days I truly wonder why I keep it up. That’s because for every good day of riding, there’s a bad day where the horse acts up. So you’re always looking to the future — what will the next ride be like?
“But riding gets me out in the hills. It gives me a chance to see the seasons change. And the people I’ve met over the years and those I ride with today share one thing — they’re all terrific.”
Photos by Charlotte Dean.