Touch n GO Farm

Whitesburg Georgia

Flo Lininger PDF Print E-mail
I still blame it all on Elizabeth Taylor and "National Velvet." After watching that film I realized there was a world of horses beyond trail rides in the Pocono Mountains. Hacking around the family stable and jumping poles on cinder blocks just didn't compare to a young girl riding in the Grand National. Even at age seven I realized that I needed a riding instructor if there was any hope of my becoming "Velvet Brown."

Back in the early sixties training facilities with proper riding arenas were scarce. Flo and Howard Lininger's Hill Meadow Farm was unique since it had an outdoor and an indoor ring. Little girls have a way of getting what they want and my parents began sending me to Flo for regular lessons.

Hill Meadow may not have been a premier equestrian facility but Flo ran a tight operation. I immediately learned that the rules of the barn were to be followed implicitly. With a barn full of young riders, Flo demanded discipline from all of her students. I enjoyed her strict routine and dedication. Besides, I always saw the compassionate person beneath the gruff exterior.

I arrived at Hill Meadow largely self-taught and rode by the seat of my pants. I also lacked restraint such as the times I would jump over the arena gate rather than dismount and open it. I can still hear her yelling "Gigi, stop! You'll hurt yourself..your horse...or my fence!" Flo made me realize that there wasmore to riding than hopping on bareback and heading for something to jump.

To this day, I don't know where Flo learned to ride or whom she trained with. She didn't have an illustrious show career that I am aware of. What Flo did have was horsemanship. Flo demonstrated use of the lunge line and its purpose in training. Proper grooming, riding attire,turnout,a good working knowledge of basic tack and equipment were explained in detail. My seat, position and form became the center of attention when I began riding with her. During group lessons I learned ring etiquette and gained an awareness of other riders while schooling. All of the fundamentals were covered. In essence, Flo Lininger was my "Pony Club."

I continued to ride and work at Hill Meadow for ten years. In my teens Flo gave me the opportunity to teach kids during summer camps. Those were the first lessons I taught in my thirty year teaching career. I took countless lessons, showed at her farm, rode her horses and considered the stable my second home. If my school called my mother inquiring as to why I wasn't in class, she always knew she would find me at Flo's place.

I have kept in touch with Flo over the years. The farm is gone, she is retired and spends her time touring the country in a RV. She even paid a visit to my farm in Georgia in 1996. During our last conversation she expressed pride in knowing that myself, Sandy Vaughn (AQHA) and a few others went on to establish careers as professional riders after our time at Hill Meadow. After thirty-five years Flo still refers to us as her "kids."

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