Winter can be a cruel time of year for those who are older or ill.
It seems that the cold darkness steals good folks away from us at an increased rate, or maybe it just feels that way to the rest of us. One such person was Mollie Maslin of Harford County, who was age 82 but who had suffered a lasting illness recently.
If any of the readers of this column are wondering why I am talking about a person from Harford County, it is because darn near every horsemen of any length of time will know Mollie Maslin from interacting with her on some level. To save time I will excerpt some bits from an all too brief obituary that was posted for her.
"Mollie Lee Maslin, age 82, of Perryman, Maryland passed away on December 31, 2016 at home. She was involved in many organizations including as a Judge and Steward for Maryland Horse Show Association, Virginia Horse Show Association, United States Equestrian Federation, American Shetland Pony Association, American Miniature Horse Association, and the Welsh Pony & Cob Association and was a member of Maryland Horse Breeders. She was an avid horsewoman who trained many riders over her lifetime. She loved auctions and finding "treasures" for others. She enjoyed giving and always sacrificed for others. She was one of the founders of the Harford County Horse Show Association and Combined Eastern Shore Horse Show Association. She had Jack Russell Terriers before they were Cool! She was a Maryland 4H Leader for more than 65 years and also a judge for the Maryland Special Olympics. She won the first pony club rally held in the United States."
I had recently done an article about Mollie Maslin and several of her friends — all long-time horsewomen.
Interviewing Mollie Maslin was a joy. Her delight in talking about her horses and her life with them was both palpable and infectious. At the time she was engaged in battling the disease that eventually took her life but her courage in life and living was inspiring.
Carroll County Daily Headlines
As with so many of the horse folks Mollie Maslin had also been dealing with the arthritis that seems to be the due of those who deal with animals that outweigh them by a factor of 10 — or more. For instance Her last judging jobs, which she accepted after she had both shoulders and both knees replaced and realized that she was once again operating without pain, took her as far away from her Maryland home farm of Maslin's Little Acres as Florida, Texas, California and Canada!
When she was at home and operating at full speed she had 20 horses and ponies — not surprising because she bred crossbred ponies for the show ring from her own Welsh ponies and thoroughbreds — and spent her time either teaching or traveling to shows with horses and kids. This was in addition to having a husband and a son and daughter.
Mollie's first horse show win came at a show so local that you were not allowed to wear actual riding clothes for fear of upstaging those who didn't own riding clothes. Having said that, it will not surprise those of a certain age to learn that show was in 1956 — a full 60 years ago. In fact she had to defend her choice of wearing some very paint spattered and rather disreputable old jodhpurs when someone complained that she was flouting the "riding clothes" rule by saying that her husband refused to let her wear what were at that time called dungarees. Ladies of that time generally did what their husbands told them to do.
My, how things have changed in 60 short years!
Mollie recalls that she was riding a rather green borrowed horse for its timid owner in that class. She said that she won the class which was a mixed blessing because the first place prize for that class was a live piglet which the judge insisted on handing to her while she was still mounted, something that her horse found extremely distasteful.
"I don't know what I would have done if that man hadn't come in to hold his horse," she laughed when she told me the story of that particular victory. "But it could have been worse. They were giving live chickens as second place prizes!"
With that introduction to the world of horse shows and even after a long, very busy and highly accredited career as judge, breeder, rider and teacher of many, many riders, it should not surprise anyone to hear that Mollie Maslin's best advice for riders today is, "Riding should above all be fun. It didn't matter what I was doing with horses, I enjoyed myself and looking back I can say that it's been a fun ride!"