Pets and Their People: Mare and Grace Wilbanks

A sweet and pampered Mare poses with her owner, Grace Wilbanks, who soon heads back to the University of Georgia for her junior year.

Grace Wilbanks remembers the day eight years ago when her father, Bob Wilbanks, brought home a Quarter Horse he intended to put to work on the family beef cattle farm on Rapidan Road. After one look at the new arrival, she set her dad straight: “You think that’s your horse? Um, no!” Although she has owned several show horses and known a great many others during her years on the show circuit, she calls Mare “the most special horse I ever had” and “almost telepathic” in her understanding of her owner’s feelings. Gesturing toward the sleek and gentle animal, calmly waiting to be led from her stall, she said, “This is what made me love riding—to be so close to her and have her take care of me.” The thoroughly pampered Mare has had many an adventure with Wilbanks, who confessed, “If she could talk, I’d be in major trouble with my parents.” Loyal and telepathic though she may be, it turns out the 20-year-old Mare have some mischief in her. On a recent hot day, Wilbanks rode Mare into a creek so the horse could cool off and splash around. At one point, when Wilbanks was gazing down into the water, Mare did a “full-body swing” and tossed her into the creek. “She was so funny,” Wilbanks said. “She was like, ‘Come on, Grace!’” 

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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