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Saddle Up: Galloping through Time and Tradition with Our Children

I love giving loved ones gifts. Life teaches that the most memorable gifts are experiences. Days (sleepless nights, too) with our children are numbered. No greater gift exists than sharing time, through things like mutual hobbies, with children. When time is gifted, no novelty wears off.


Sciortino, mom to Harrison (6) and Liam (5)

Traditions are beautiful, and more likely to be passed down than gadget gifts. Quarantine gifted two Tampa moms with traditional silver linings. Shelley Sciortino and Katherine Stone grew up steeped in horsemanship. Sciortino, mom to Harrison (6) and Liam (5), and Stone, mom to Isabella (10), reentered the equestrian world when the world shut down amid COVID-19.

Isabella (10)

“It’s always been in my blood,” Sciortino says. “Whenever we go on vacations, I book every horse activity.” She started riding in kindergarten and proudly shares her love for animals with her children. “The boys are learning horses’ magnificence, as well as the kindness and respect they deserve.”

Stone’s tradition of horsemanship, like Isabella’s, started at 9: “I had my horse until law school, and I always missed the saddle. It wasn’t in the cards until recently.” This summer, Stone’s parents, farm and hay business owners in Mississippi, were going to sell their horses. “I woke up in the middle of the night and knew I wanted Bob, the grey horse.” The two women got a trailer and brought Bob to Tampa. Following in their mothers’ tradition, the Sciortino boys and Isabella saddled up, learning all things horsemanship from the ground up.

Work Ethic

Equestrianism is a time commitment. Sciortino, an Instagram influencer, and Stone, attorney and law firm owner, have slammed schedules.

However, busy moms are time-savvy people. Tacking horses onto the schedule leads into lessons about time management and solid work ethic. Stone and Isabella ride several times a week to 45-minute lessons, and the fourth grader maximizes car time for reading and studying. Stone sets up a mobile law office when traveling to horse shows.

Sciortino underscores how long tacking, untacking, and clean-up take. “The boys are learning responsibility. I don’t do barn chores for them. They’re practicing things like picking hooves.” There are mom-child disagreements, surely, and both moms have trainers aiding with kids’ instruction. Lessons learned about hard work’s value will carry kids through many successes; Good ol’ dirty, sweaty work—with a focus on process over product.


Isabella, who plays softball, shares that pastime with her dad. Liam and Harrison, avid fishermen, share that passion with their father. Riding has given the moms a touchpoint unique to them and the kids. “We constantly talk about Bob and horseshows. The house brims with horse stuff, and I love sharing that with her,” Stone recounts. Stone’s mom also enjoys repurposing old show outfits for Isabella and the ten-year-old loves having her Gigi and Bubba at shows.

Beyond loving extra connection with the boys, Sciortino has reconnected with herself. “Riding is like church for me. It helps my anxiety. It’s filled a void.”

Sharing passions with children breeds lifelong bonds and connections more significant than any tech gift provides. Introducing kids to our cherished hobbies encourages trying new things, supports a mastery mindset, and gifts parent and child with the most precious, elusive gift: time.

Before Bridling Do…

  • Research varying riding styles
  • Seek guidance from a trainer
  • Start with lessons (great holiday gift)
  • Consider associated expenses
  • Understand the sport is not gender bound
  • Follow Shelley on IG @shelleysciortino
  • Follow Bob on IG @bobthegreyhorse
Tara Payor, Ph.D.
Tara Payor, Ph.D.
Tara Payor is a language arts educator and has taught students from the middle school level to adult learners at the doctorate level. She earned a Ph.D., in curriculum and instruction, from the University of South Florida. A member of the Junior League of Tampa and KNOW Women, she has two children—Harlow and Hendrix.

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