Amazing April: Introducing – Sue McAllen Roska

This is an introduction I have been particularly waiting for.  Another of the Facebook friends that have come along to Tölt.Club over the first months.  I am still not sure what to make of her “about” on Facebook (go have a look, you dont have to be friends, just put Sue’s name into facebook and look under “people” although I love Sue’s posts, so interesting and I often share them).

My curiosity was piqued, I explored further and then contacted Sue about possibly doing an introduction to herself…..

Hi! Sorry for not replying earlier. My husband, daughter, and I are doing chores this week at the stable where we board our horses. That involves the care and feeding of 56 horses, 1 donkey, 2 dogs, and an unknown number of feral cats. So – I’m not spending much time online! I took a quick look at a couple of the bios you’ve already shared. I would be happy to do something similar. However, I don’t think I’m nearly as interesting as the ones you have already shared! Also, I am from the same state (Wisconsin) as “Terri the American“. (Hmmm… another Icey owner so close) so if you’re looking to emphasize the diversity of the group you may want to find someone else. I will not be hurt. I promise! Otherwise, if you would still like me to write something I can but would not be able to do it until next week – when I’m no longer taking care of 56 horses (only 2 of which are Iceys – these people just don’t know what they’re missing!) Just let me know!

Well, no choice then but to wait… in between whiles Sue and I had been exchanging more messages and we were talking about Terri as a comparative youngster (your ears might have been burning Terri, in a good way) Sue said “I’m 68, my also Icey riding husband is 76. We’re definitely not on the young side – except in spirit!” When I checked back with Sue earlier this week:

Ah yes! Thank you for asking! We survived in spite of wicked storms with rain, lightning, a broken electric line (hubby fixed with a flashlight in the dark in light rain with lightning in the distance) and even a little snow for the last 3 days of the week. Wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour added to the fun. NOT what we imagined when we offered to take over the chores for a lovely week in April. Ha ha. (5 inches of wet sloppy heavy snow fell last Sunday. So much for blooming daffodils!)

Cartoon by Helena Leigh Levett, part of her great Icey Alphabet and available from her and soon on Tölt.Club (Its Helena’s Birthday today I discovered when I went to add the link.)

Just to keep up the fun, on my first day off chore duty one of my muck boots got stuck in the mud, my foot slipped out and landed in the deep muck. While I was trying to retrieve the first boot, the the other one also got stuck, I lost my balance. My second foot slipped out of its boot and I fell into the muck. So now you have this 68 year old woman walking around in her stocking feet in the paddock, covered with mud, leading a very patient Icelandic horse around as she tries to retrieve her boots. Life with horses – LOL. So it was a cool coincidence to see your note this morning as I outlined a little piece for you yesterday and plan to work on finishing it later today. Hopefully, I won’t bore everyone to tears.

I don’t think there is even a slight chance of that on current showing. We have all been there at one time or another. Onwards…..

Here you are Mo!  I hope I don’t bore you to tears – it’s pretty long.  But you have no idea how much longer it could be!  I can happily make it shorter if you like but this is a quick summary of my lifetime of loving horses.  My oldest memory is of looking at my cousin on her horse and saying “I want to do that”.  I was three.  Here is the bio (in the quotes):

Sept 59 first pony

“I pretty much grew up on horseback. I got my first pony when I was 8 – a dark brown mountain Welsh. I rode by myself for hours all over the country roads surrounding the small northern Wisconsin (USA) town where I grew up. I rode bareback (didn’t have a saddle) so I had to learn very quickly how to stay on and not panic if my pony decided it was time to run back to the barn!  I’m still pretty good with a bolting horse if I have to be.

As a grown-up, I’m just as obsessed with horses as I was as a child. Fortunately, my family shares my passion.

When my daughter was 7 years old she asked to go to horse camp. About a week after that camp we bought our first family horse – a BLM mustang mare – intending to share her between the two of us. Less than a year later, I bought an Appendix Quarter Horse for myself. My husband followed up with a gorgeous big Paint for himself.

Baby Blazer

My youngest daughter was only 3 at the time so she had to settle for taking riding lessons but as soon as she was willing to ride through the winter she got her own horse as well. Somewhere along the way, we bred the mustang mare to a thoroughbred and I got my second horse – a beautiful TB/mustang cross named Blazer. He will be 25 this May and has spent his entire life with me.  (All of our horses are ours for life. We apparently only know how to buy horses because we’ve never sold any.)

Before we retired, my husband and I both worked for over 30 years as IT professionals for a large Insurance company. Riding – both on our own horses and on riding vacations – was a great break from our corporate jobs.  We started taking week long riding vacations.  So far, we have gone on eight riding vacations in four different countries and are booked to go on one in Iceland in June. (Thanks Sherise Faber!)

Sherise has featured on the blog before – she runs personalised, small tours to Iceland, I would have included her in Amazing April except she has already told her story. – Mo.

It was planning one of those vacations that led us to the Icelandic horse.  We were considering a ride in Tuscany but to “save money” we decided to stay a little closer to home so we booked a fall foliage tour at the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm. That is where I got on my first Icelandic horse – a little 13 hand light chestnut pinto gelding named Ari. I got a chance to ride several other Iceys during the week but kept coming back to Ari. When I learned he was for sale I was a goner. I fought it. It was crazy. We were retired, on a budget. We already had 4 horses and had recently adopted an OTTB. We did not need another horse. I did not need another horse. We could not afford another horse. We took this trip to SAVE money – not find a horse. We left the stable. 

When we woke up in our hotel near the Boston airport the next day, my husband turned to me and said “I think you need to buy that horse.” By the end of October, Ari arrived at our stable in Wisconsin. Like the mustang mare, we were going to share him. I don’t share horses well. My husband got his own Icey, Tryggur, the following June. We have not regretted it for ONE minute!


I’ve ridden multiple disciplines – huntseat and western – but I love the new dimension that riding gaited Icelandics offers. There is something very special, almost magical, about this unique horse. I’m sorry it took me over 60 years to discover them.

(Everyone is nodding I can feel it – Mo.)

Horses have been a big part of my whole life.  I feel very blessed that my childhood preoccupation with horses has become my entire family’s avocation.  We all ride regularly and we all board at the same stable.  For my youngest daughter horses have become her vocation as well.  She is an equine vet.

I’m 68 (my husband is 76).  I want to continue riding for as long as I can.  To make sure I say fit enough to do that and to make sure I’m the best rider I can be for my little Ari, I recently completed the last workout in a 3 month program dedicated to improving the muscles used when riding horses. The course consisted of 36 progressive workouts – 12 each of core strength, yoga mobility, and rider fitness – with daily homework each week and a few exercises to take to the horse. Resistance tubes and a Swiss ball added to the challenge. (I just signed up for another 3 months!)

I believe that you are never too old to do what you love or to get better at doing it!”

Nothing like a personal recommendation – the fitness programme is one I featured earlier in the year which came up from the January Facebook talking topics (it might have been Sue’s suggestion). From Dressage Rider Training – its £197. We are not affiliated.

One thought on “Amazing April: Introducing – Sue McAllen Roska

  1. You are never too old – I started riding last year after 45 years out of the saddle1 My daughter got a second icey so Solvi needed exercising – she said ‘get on him’ and here we are. By the way I’m 68 too. Wish I’d ridden him years ago. Spent the last weekend on a course at Mo’s. Great time.

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