Pets and Their People: Peach and Renee McCalla

There are few things Renee McCalla enjoys more than riding her Haflinger, an Austrian breed of horse known to be calm and steady. Speaking fondly of Peach, so named because of her color and round shape, she said, “She could walk Lake Anna with her eyes closed.” Peach hasn’t been put to that particular test, but McCalla moved her to an equestrian center in January so she could continue riding the sturdy 16-year-old for the remainder of the winter. “My ring is a swamp,” McCalla said of the Locust Grove property she shares with her husband, John. “It’s slippery and you just slosh.” At Magnolia Equestrian Center, she has kept up her riding lessons in a large, well-drained ring. “If you don’t take lessons, you fall back,” said McCalla, who grew up riding horses near Philadelphia and got back into it when her daughter, now grown, expressed an interest in the sport. The McCallas moved from Prince William County to Orange County in 2006, in part so they would have room on their property for horses. In addition to Peach, they own a retired Appaloosa, a donkey and some miniature horses. Shown here, Renee McCalla and Peach seek out a sunny spot on a bitter-cold day at Magnolia Equestrian Center in Stevensburg.

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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