At 83, Mobridge woman continues lifelong love of horses

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At some point in her life, almost every little girl wants a pony.

Muriel Hohle of Mobridge got that pony when she was 4.

“I wanted a pony, but it was an ornery one — most of the Shetlands are,” Hohle said.

That ornery pony started a lifelong love of horses that Hohle, now 83, continues to this day.

Hohle and her brother eventually rode an unnamed Shetland, but it was another pony, Billy, that really got her into riding.

“She would tell stories about her and her brother riding these ponies all over — it sounded like they had quite a wild time with the ponies,” longtime friend Deb Walker said.

Growing up, Hohle said horses were always more pets than workers on the farm.

After she got married and had a few children, going to horse shows was an interest that she and her daughter, Tami, shared, Hohle said.

“(My husband) and our two sons decided they wanted to go fishing and hunting,” Hohle said. “That was fine. My daughter and I went to horse shows and they did their thing.”

The Hohles had dairy cows, and Muriel was a teacher, but she continued to show horses around South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

“I cooked and cleaned and washed clothes and that was it,” Hohle said. “Otherwise I was in with the horses, and my kids worked with me.”

Hohle said she was also involved in 4-H club, putting on workshops for the kids, teaching them to ride and judging shows, including the show at the State Fair.

Her daughter showed at 4-H shows, and the two of them went to open shows together so Hohle could show, too.

The open shows were sometimes a mix of men, women and children divided by age, Hohle said.

In those days, she would haul many horses, Hohle said.

“I showed colts, yearlings and horses … at a bunch of different stock shows in Rapid City and Huron,” Hohle said.

It was through horse shows that Hohle and Walker met, Walker said. They’ve been friends for at least 35 years.

“The majority of our friendship is through horses,” Walker said. “We do a ton of horse stuff together — ride together, help each other out.”

Right now, Hohle has been recovering from knee surgery — her second in the last few years, she said. Now both of her knees have been worked on.

“I should be good to go,” Hohle said. “God’s blessed me with a healthy body and it just needs a little repair once in a while.”

But the surgeries don’t slow her down, Hohle said, they help get her back up on her horse.

“She wanted her surgery now so she could ride in the spring,” Walker said. “She planned that out pretty good.”

The last time she did a show was in August with her horse Katie, Hohle said. That was the last show of the season hosted by the Aberdeen Area Horsemen’s Association.

The association has been around since 1990, founding member and secretary-treasurer Pearl Holt said. Hohle has been coming to the shows almost since its inception.

At 83, Hohle is definitely one of the oldest competitors at the association’s shows, Holt said.

“We all admire her for being able to swing a leg up and be up off the ground and be ready to compete,” Holt said. “Anything can happen — you’re on an animal that’s 1,200 pounds and anything could happen.”

Being involved with shows in the region all these years has led her to some pretty wonderful people, Hohle said.

“The different relationships you develop with people, you become friends for life,” Hohle said. “I have a lot of friends — I think I’m the oldest in the group — not many people show when they’re my age.”

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