Sperryville column for May 12

Katie’s excellent adventures

Katie Sharp and Red Hill Sparkle take a hill during a recent Hunter Pace event at the McNears’ Greenwood Farm.

We’ve happily, over the years, followed the adventures of one of Rappahannock’s equestrian superstars, young Katie Sharp, daughter of Bill and Marion Sharp. Katie recently won first in her division at the LHPC (Loudoun Hunt Pony Club) horse trial at Morven Park in Leesburg. This is, according to the organization, “the ultimate challenge for horse and rider, eventing tests their partnership and athletic prowess in three diverse and demanding disciplines: the grace and harmony of dressage; the rigors and thrills of cross-country; [and] the power and pageantry of show jumping.”

Katie adds this to a list of equestrian accomplishments, including winning the Novice Girls Tetrathlon in Kentucky last year, home of the famed Derby. The USPC attracts competitors from all over the world and the timed, four-pronged tetrathlon features stadium jumping, swimming, running and shooting.

Katie began riding at 4, and when many of us were learning to tie our shoes, she was galloping over Rappahannock’s many hills and dales. Katie rides like the wind and lives and breathes all things equine, riding every chance she gets, and is also a straight-A student. She fox hunts with Rappahannock Hunt.

Last year, asked where she gets her inspiration, she answered immediately: “My folks, they’re my inspiration. They believe in me, and they tell me too I must get good grades if I want to continue with my passion, and so I’m motivated to work really hard. And Debbie Welch, she’s the head of the ODH Pony Club. She’s worked with me from the beginning.”

“I’m so proud of Katie and Red Hill Sparkle [her mount],” says her mom, Marion. Sparkle was raised at Red Hill and was a foal out of the last mare Marion owned with Katie’s grandfather, Dunny Eastham, who was, as many in Rappahannock are aware, a well-known horseman.

Katie and Sparkle will compete in July at the USPC East Coast Championships, in the tetrathlon at the Tyron International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. We wish you all the best in your endeavors, Katie, both scholastically and in your equine passion. You are just beginning, and as your mom tells me, “It has been such a pleasure watching Katie and Sparkle develop and bond as they have and it warms my heart to know how my father would have been so proud.” Go for it, girl!

A long time since . . .

Rainey Dorsey (right) and William "Billy" Shanks first met at Fort Meade when they were both drafted in 1951. A lifetime or so later, they're getting reacquainted at the Rappahannock Senior Center in Castleton.Darcy Canton
Rainey Dorsey (right) and William “Billy” Shanks first met at Fort Meade when they were both drafted in 1951. A lifetime or so later, they’re getting reacquainted at the Rappahannock Senior Center in Castleton.

Darcy Canton, director of Rappahannock’s Senior Center, tells of a special reunion which took place recently at the Scrabble School, site of the senior center. “Two men, two senior citizens and Korean War Veterans were reunited after 60 years,” she writes. “Rainey Dorsey and Billy Shanks were both drafted in 1951 for the Korean War. They were both stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1956, they parted ways in Washington, D.C., with Billy heading to Culpeper, Va., via Trailways and Rainey heading to Frederick, Md., via Greyhound. And now, here they are, a lifetime of 60-plus years later, getting reacquainted at the Rappahannock Senior Center in Castleton, Va., where Mr. Dorsey attends daily since moving to Chester Gap with his daughter, Rainer, a few years back. Mr. Shanks still resides in Culpeper with his wife.”

As it turns out, Billy Shanks recounted, in talking to Ruth Young at the Senior Center, he found out she knew Rainey Dorsey. “I’d lost track of Rainey,” Billy tells me, “after we were discharged and we went our separate ways. I remember we played baseball together and when I found out while at the center talking to Ms. Ruth that she knew Rainey, well it was all I could do to get home and make a call to him.

“He returned my call immediately and we met and talked and while it was in a crowded center that we first met again, and a little hard for me to hear everything, I so look forward to meeting him again, and have a chance to sit in the Center’s quiet garden where we can catch up on the years.”

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