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How Horses Can Shape Our Lives


Ask Sandy Denarski about horses, and she’ll insist they saved her life. Sandy (DC, 1973) grew up in New Jersey and was a typical horse-crazy kid. She begged her parents to let her take riding lessons but they told her was (1) too unladylike, (2) too expensive and (3) too dangerous. “I wasn’t sure which was a greater concern to them,” she recalls.

 

As a child, she says, she was always overweight to varying degrees, at best being a little overweight, but as time went on and she moved up the ladder in the corporate world, “a ‘little overweight’ turned into a potentially life-threatening condition. So about six years ago I decided I had to make some changes in my life.”

Sandy Denarski and one of her four-footed supporters.

Sandy Denarski and one of her four-footed supporters.


      She began by taking control of her food intake. Then she looked for an incentive to keep her focused: she contacted her daughter’s riding coach and asked her if she could help her fulfill a dream -- riding lessons. The coach hesitated, but found a suitable horse for Sandy. “I’m glad there were no cameras, because that first time I could hardly get on the horse.” However, she persevered -- with the weight loss and her riding lessons, and now she is a tall, svelte shadow of her former self who is competing in local classes.

 

Sandy, who is general manager of Johnson and Johnson Finance Corporation, gives motivational talks to groups on her own time. Her personal passion, in addition to horses, is fighting the epidemic of obesity. “For me, horses were my ally in the fight. They continue to help me keep my weight down and reduce the stress that contributed to the problem in the first place.”

 

Sandy is thankful every day for her changed life, and grateful to the two-legged and four-legged partners who helped make it possible. Sandy joined the Community of 50 for Equine Excellence by making a major contribution of J&J stock this past June in the name of the Equine Science Center, and she continues to support Equine Science Center programs. We are grateful to Sandy for proving that “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a (wo)man.”—Winston Churchill.
 


 

Bob Lippman


Most horse people are made, not born. Take Bob Lippman, for example.

 

Robert M. Lippman, RU Class of 1948, came to Rutgers to play football and get a first-class education. He was enrolled in Rutgers College as a business administration major so he could run his own business. He never visited the Ag College or spent time on College Farm Road or laid eyes on a horse the whole time he was in school.

 

So how is it that some of the best times of his life and many of his most poignant memories are wrapped up in horses?

 

According to Bob, he caught the bug when customers of his successful plumbing and heating business in New Jersey took him for an occasional afternoon at the track. Eventually, he wound up being a racehorse owner and even got into breeding.

 

Bob Lippman (in white coat with Norma beside him) enjoys the winner's circle in May 1988 with Producer's Couch, a half-sister to Big Brown Eyes, ridden by Mike Venezia.

Bob Lippman (in white coat with Norma beside him) enjoys the winner's circle in May 1988 with Producer's Couch, a half-sister to Big Brown Eyes, ridden by Mike Venezia.

Along the way, he and his wife Norma became close friends with jockey Mike Venezia and his family. Tragically, a spill at Belmont Park in 1988 took Venezia’s life. A short while later, Bob honored Venezia by naming a promising filly “Big Brown Eyes” – a reference to Venezia’s trademark soft brown eyes.

 

And in the sometimes fairytale world of horse racing, Big Brown Eyes won the race of a lifetime when she captured the 1990 Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga Springs. Venezia’s family had been invited by the Lippmans to see the race, and the late jockey’s young son Mike Jr. accompanied Bob to the winner’s circle.

 

Bob has retired to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he has taken up painting and where Norma hosts a locally-produced television show called “Everything Animal!” He occasionally goes to the track, but being in the clubhouse isn’t the same as being out back with the trainers and jockeys. “When I was an owner and breeder, I was part of a very special fraternity. They treated me like I knew a little something about horses, and I guess I did. Imagine that – a city kid from north Jersey.”

 

Bob and his family have a standing invitation to visit the Equine Science Center. He’ll find plenty of company in that community of people who love horses.

 

 

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© 2009 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Items may be reprinted with permission from the
Director of the Equine Science Center:

esc@njaes.rutgers.edu


The Equine Science Center is a unit of
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.