A Belated Rememberance: Lois Heyerdahl
I really should have posted this earlier (blame school, blame my injuries acting up, whatever) and I feel guilty for not. I wanted to dedicate this post to Lois Heyerdahl, a wonderful horsewoman.
I only met her once but she left quite an impression. My husband and I did a dressage clinic with her at Cedar Falls Equestrian Center with our horse trainer, Deb DeVries. Deb has known Lois for quite some time and encouraged all of us to sign up for the clinic.
I was hesitant, I had a bad (and I mean BAD) accident with our imported Polish Warmblood (Arnold, or Hell Boy as was his nickname) a few years earlier. I started riding again as soon as I could, the accident was in October and I was on by January. It was a lot of fear and pain to overcome, but by that spring Iwas jumping just under 3 feet with a thrustworthy pony. I switched to dressage from back pain and was riding my previous eventer trainer’s horses and our two large Polish Warmbloods (yeah, even the one that almost killed me, I just don’t learn!) BUT that was before we moved to Iowa. The horses went with my husband several months before I left my beloved Detroit (say what you will but I will always love that city). Anyway, in those months I stopped riding. The fear came back. By the time I came to Iowa I was terrified to even be on the ground near a horse, especially if it moved suddenly. Slowly I began to ride some of Deb’s ponies and found one I clicked with. I did walk trot and cantered him once (I was deathly afraid of that gait in particular). So you can see why I was almost embarrassed to be seen by a top level judge and a clinician of Lois’ caliber.
Well, Deb was wonderful and scheduled me at the very beginning or the very end of the day for the 2-day clinic. I was the very first ride with Lois. I was really nervous. But, immeditely, she put me at ease. I told her my story and where I was and she was understanding, kind and very helpful. I told her “I can’t canter yet.” I expected her to nudge me into it. She said “That’s fine. Do what you feel you can. We’re hapy you’re riding.” She worked with me with just as much passion and enthusiam as the upper level riders that came later in the day. I appreciated it so much.
She also worked with my husband and our two horses, big imported Polish Warmbloods who can sometimes lose their brains. She knew exactly what to do with them from the minute she saw them. I have yet to see anyone pin a horse’s personality so quickly. Lois knew exactly what Arnold was capable of, even with his innocent looks he is stubborn and will avoid work at all costs.
I also got to hear her stories of her horses and husband while auditing the rest of the clinic. I was impressed, she was so kind and funny and just generally fun to be around.
We had hoped to have another clinic with Lois but sadly it did not happen, she passed away a few months ago. I had the opportunity to take pictures and I think they show how sweet she was and how much she really loved horses.
Rest in peace, Lois. You will be missed.