Equine Center Fulfills 92-Year-Old's Birthday Wish

Wilmington Resident Richard Spinks Rides a Horse for First Time in 70 Years

May 8, 2013


Richard "Dick" Spinks rides Cotton on his 92nd birthday at WC's Equine Center.

Richard “Dick” Spinks’ request for a bucket of manure ended up with Wilmington College giving the 92-year-old the chance to check off an item from his bucket list.

Spinks, a Wilmington resident for more than 50 years, visited a farm on Fife Ave. for some rhubarb plants last week. Noticing the nearby Wilmington College Equine Center, he thought he’d inquire about the ability of manure.

“I knew they had horses there,” he said, adding that he quickly met manager Lisa Kiley upon entering the center. “I asked Lisa for some horse manure for my rhubarbs.”

Kiley placed a couple of shovels full in his bucket while showing him around the Equine Center.

“I told her I was raised on a farm — I’m a farm boy and I like being around horses,” he said.
Kiley fondly recalled the encounter.

“After a long conversation, he informed me that he would love to get back on a horse to celebrate his 92nd birthday, so I invited him to come back on Friday (May 3), his birthday),” she said.

“With the help of students in my Advanced Horsemanship class, we helped make his wish come true,” Kiley added. “We saddled up Cotton, my seven-year-old, quarter horse gelding for him, and then we rode outside in the outdoor arena.”

(LEFT) Richard Spinks poses with his new friend, Lisa Kiley's quarter horse, Cotton.

The students, who assisted in helping him on and off the horse, walked with him as he rode around. After his ride, he fed Cotton carrots while they un-tacked and groomed the horse out. They surprised Spinks with a birthday cake and a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Spinks was thrilled to be back on a horse after some 70 years.

He shared his life’s story of growing up on a farm south of Hillsboro, owning a 1916 Model T and voting for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Spinks was only 12 years old when his father died, which forced him, his mother and four siblings to run the family farm.

“We had a pair of horses and a pair of mules,” he said. “I used to ride horses — bareback, we didn’t have saddles — six miles to see my grandpa. Also, I rode a mule to visit some girls,” he recalled.

Spinks last mounted a horse in 1943 before entering the military in World War II, during which his mother sold the family farm. After the war, he raised a family and held jobs ranging from selling real estate and coal mining to owning a lawnmower repair business, the latter of which he still tinkers with.

“Lisa and those girls were very nice and polite. They gave me a wonderful birthday present,” he said. “I’m still eating the cake they had me take home.”