Nan Chapman discovered horses as a child — and they’re still an important part of her life

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on July 3, 2012

Nan Chapman works out horse Jackie

Nan Chapman rode her first horse when she was seven. His name was Ranger, and he was housed at an Atherton home near the corner of Atherton Ave. and El Camino Real, often referred to as the “Dupont House.”

“My mother said the most expensive mistake she ever made was buying me my first riding lesson,” she says. “When I got married, she told my husband that I’d get over horses.”

She, of course, did not. While she didn’t own her first horse until she was 40, she showed other people’s American Saddlebreds in pleasure and pair classes.  “The breed was originally a plantation horse,” she says. “They’re bred for speed, appearance and endurance. You can ride them or drive them.”

Nan Chapman and horse Jackie preparing for a workoutBefore moving to Woodside, Nan lived for many years  in Atherton. She was active in city governance and volunteering. She served on the City Council and was mayor twice. She was involved with the Junior League, Family Services, and Vista Center for the Blind. Her longest volunteer stint may be with the Menlo Charity House Show (August 7-12), which she’s been involved with for the past 42 years. Today, she also concentrates her energy on the Horse Park in Woodside and the Folger Barn.

Nan says the great thing about staying involved with horses is that as you age, you can “downgrade” by riding a less spirited horse or adopting a new activity. She’s done the later and now shows 12-year-old Jackie (whose registered American Saddlebred name is A Day on the Town) in four or five pleasure driving classes a year. “You can always find the mount or discipline that fits you,” she says. “I have no plans to quit, although I may be in a lead line class some day!”

Photos by Scott R. Kline

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