An #EquestrianProblem As Old As Time

Don’t worry, our forefathers have been there too.

While digging through some family history last weekend, I stumbled upon a century-old equestrian problem that I’m sure 99% of readers have experienced: loose horses.

For a little background: Martha and Ophelia Griffith were two “old maid” sisters living on the shore of Chautauqua Lake in western New York state, operating a boardinghouse for summer guests who came to enjoy the tranquil waters and country lifestyle. The property where their boardinghouse and farm stood is owned by my husband’s great-aunt, with a few of the original buildings still standing such as this big red barn. (It’s so picturesque we even decided to have our wedding there.)

For rustic decor, add draft horse show wagon and bam! Instant wedding. Photo by John Conti.

Martha and Ophelia operated their boardinghouse for decades after the Civil War and were active in the suffragette movement in New York state, earning women the right to vote — we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of that right to vote this year.

While looking at old documents of Miss Ophelia’s that have been saved by the family, I stumbled across this preserved note from a slightly disgruntled neighbor, another farmer named John Smiley:

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

The note reads as follows:

Ellery, Nov 16th 1897

Madams M & O Griffiths

Your old horse is on my wheat and this is the third time this week he has been on my wheat I want you to take the horse off from my wheat and keep the horse off of my wheat for all time

John Smiley

Madams M & O, we feel your pain, and a hundred years later, give you the equestrian salute of solidarity.

#EquestrianProblems: we’re ageless.

Go riding!

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