It is not uncommon to hear of the healing power of equine therapy but not all healing is for those who are struggling. In her youth, Betty Berenotto had a deep-seated passion for her equine friends. This New Jersey resident has spent her life as an avid quilter and recently has suffered from Macular Degeneration which is directly affecting her eyesight. She is often described as a feisty woman with an unbreakable spirit, the kind of woman many admire and want to emulate but one that people avoid crossing.
Her love for the horse goes way back, in her youth she always wanted a pony and held a deep resentment that her father would never provide her with one. In her youth, she recalls constantly begging her father to take her to Atlantic City to ride the ponies. It was during this time that the famous Diving ponies were a popular attraction. Betty recalls the joy she felt watching the equine athletes dive off the steel pier, the amazement as they walked up the steep incline slide off the platform and push off with their back feet. As part of her youthful routine, she would go around to the glass stalls and watch the horses eat their hay and get washed after their performance.
Unfortunately, Betty was never blessed enough to own a horse of her own. Over the years she fueled her passion for horses by spending time with her family at the track where her father would give her two dollars and let her bet. Betty reminisced about the time where her mere two dollars afforded her fifty-five dollars in winnings. In addition to the track Betty used other ways to keep her horse fix fulfilled, she volunteered at an Equine Therapeutic Riding Center for 13 years. She recalls how great it was! She worked as a side walker to help stabilize the children. After the ride, the children would have eyes as big as saucers, they would kiss the horse, and express so much passion and love. In Betty’s recounts, she always hoped the horse would kiss her first, and that she never minded a little horse slobber. In her time as a volunteer, she was awarded Volunteer of the Year one year & had an apple tree planted in her honor. Another perk as a volunteer was, she could ride the horses after the lessons were over. Something she genuinely enjoyed!
On her 92nd birthday, Betty reconnected with her passion for life, when asked what made her want to connect with horses again her answer was simple, “I just wanted to ride” she goes on to say “it was my 7th Heaven! I did not want it to end! I cannot wait for it to snow this year so I can ride in a winter wonderland”.
Betty Berenotto turned 93 in November 2020 & she said, "I'm not going anywhere until I ride a horse in the snow." I have no doubt, No doubt.”
The prolific proof to this came through my time with Betty not from her words but from her expression. Through the lens of the camera, you could sense the passion, emotion, and connection that came through this amazing lady as she shared this moment with a horse. The moment came through the blessing of her son who will sit by her side when she fulfills her dream of riding in the snow aboard her own sons’ horse.
Betty Berenotto has seen a lot in her years but her steadfast passion for horses continues to keep her living her dreams.