Editor's Note: The following are excerpts from an interview conducted by Jen Lewis with Helen Gould earlier this year. It is part of a larger effort from CHJA to gather important information about the formation and growth of our association through the years. If you know of someone who should be interviewed or would like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helen: I came here to go to school at CU. [From New York state]
Jen: And did you go to school?
J: What did you graduate in?
H: I didn’t graduate. I stopped a semester short.
J: What was your degree in?
H: I was a pre-med major.
J: I didn’t know that.
J: What made you stop a semester before?
H: Well, I had to drop out for a semester because I got really sick. I had a tonsillectomy gone haywire.
J: Because you were an older tonsillectomy patient?
H: I got down to 110 lbs. I couldn’t eat. I was really sick so I dropped out. Coming back I just kind of lost my mojo for [ school.] And- I was riding. And I thought “why not?”
J: You said it was 1960-ish?
H: 1965. I was riding for gym credit at that point.
J: At CU?
J: Riding was a gym credit?
H: Uh-huh. So I signed up for that. That’s where I met Ruth and Dick [Ayres]. At Green Meadows. That’s where US West is now. And uh, that first day you had to fill out what you had done. So I did that. There were around twenty-two of us who signed up for that gym class. And Ruth says to me, “Okay. You take these nine and I will take these eleven.”
J: And you taught the gym class?
H: And I said, “I’ve never taught before.” Ruth said, “You’ll be fine.” So I did that. She said, “I’ll give you full credit. I’ll give you an ‘A.’” And then I stayed that summer and helped with the summer program.
J: How about lessons, how did that work? Do they lesson like they do now? Riding seems so much more controlled now.
H: Riders practiced in between lessons. Kids today don’t practice. They just go from one lesson to the next.
J: They just learn to listen to the voice on the rail. I remember Harriet (Bunker) telling me about Col. Robbie taking his riders out on Federal Wildlife land and jumping picnic tables.
H: Oh yeah. And his instruction was “GALLOP!!!” I remember one time I was riding a little thoroughbred mare that we had gotten off the Indian Reservation in Canada in Ontario. And they would set a rail up at about 4’6”-5’. Just one rail. “Come on down here and jump this,” I was told.
And this mare, Mitzi was her name. She looked at that thing and lowered her head –and went right under it! I had the bar in my forearms, broke the bill off my hunt cap. There we are cantering around with this pole in my arms!
I think they put in a filler after that. I mean stuff like that. They used nine penny nails for the jump cups. Once around the outside, turn around and go once around the other way.