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

by Linda Hubbard on July 3, 2012

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


ranch Gal July 03, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Nan Chapman rules horses like people. With an iron fist. Mayor of Atherton for a few years, and award woman leaving nothing in her path but waste. She lives in the past. Sorry for her.

Atherton resident July 03, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Poor Nan. Mayor of Atherton but small minded and such a fine horsewoman! She should have stuck to horsemanship and remained out of politics! Small minded and spiritually inept but she loved her horses!

Equine Abby July 04, 2012 at 10:21 am

It is great to see someone doing what they love at any age.

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