Many central Ohio equestrians owe their training to a Brown Township resident with almost four decades of experience.
Horse trainer Linda Dare, 58, is owner and operator of Dare Equestrian Center, a sprawling farm on Patterson Road in Brown Township.
Dare was honored Nov. 10 when the Franklin County Farm Bureau named her its Woman of the Year during the Women in Agriculture banquet at Franklin Park Conservatory.
Dare's friend, Teresa Woodard, nominated her and attempted to keep it under wraps, but that proved to be too much a challenge.
"I am thankful to be recognized," Dare said. "It's the first time I've been (individually) recognized for anything."
During the Nov. 10 ceremony, while listening to Woodard speak about her, Dare said she told her daughter, Kiley, it made her feel special.
Kiley's reply: "But mom, you are special,' " Dare recalled.
Dare trained Woodard's daughter, who is attending Tennessee-Martin University on an equestrian scholarship and is one of many students Dare has guided on a path through agriculture and equestrian training.
"I've known horses my whole life," said Dare, whose parents owned a boarding stable in Canfield in Mahoning County.
Dare trains plenty of recreational riders at Dare Equestrian Center, which she founded in 1983 with her ex-husband, Rusty Dare, but most of her training and coaching is for competition-level equestrians.
She advises the Young Riders 4-H Club, which she founded 21 years ago; coaches central Ohio middle school and high school students on Interscholastic Equestrian Association teams; and coaches an equestrian team for Ohio Wesleyan University.
She trains students Monday through Friday to prepare for weekend shows.
"It never ends. It is seven days a week. But I love it," Dare said.
Twenty-seven girls and three boys from throughout central Ohio are among her students this year.
"I enjoy watching (my students) have success," Dare said.
She said regardless of a student's eventual career, learning to ride horses is a discipline that is applicable to almost any walk of life.
"They also learn how to prepare and compete, both as an individual and as a team," she said. "In addition to the experience of competing, I think (riding and caring for a horse) teaches responsibility and character they can use for a lifetime."
Among her students are Mallory Baker, 13, of Upper Arlington, and Leah Palm, 16, of Canal Winchester.
Both were training with Dare Nov. 11 in advance of a Nov. 17 competition at Eden Park Equestrian Center in Sunbury.
Palm competes in the Western and English classes. She began riding horses at the age of 4 and said she plans to continue competitive riding in college.
Baker began training last year with Dare and is working on horsemanship and reining.
Dare instructs year-round, using a heated barn during cold weather. Her Patterson Road farm has indoor and outdoor arenas, a full hunt course and reining patterns.
About 60 riders, including a handful of recreational riders, use the facility each week.
Dare said she owes her enthusiasm and passion for training horses to her parents, and she has passed that along to her son.
Trevor Dare, a Hilliard Darby High School graduate, lives in Oklahoma and trains horses professionally.
Her daughter, Kiley, is a microbiologist.