Page 120 - The Hunt - Spring/Summer 2023
P. 120

                TORY HILL FARM
    Longtime friend Andrew Wyeth gave the Jill and Mark Willcox a painting as a wedding present. Married in England, they returned to find it on their doorstep. It’s since been sold at Sotheby’s to keep Tory Hill afloat.
In Tory Hill’s indoor arena, Willcox mounts a miniature stuffed horse she calls Costco. “It’s where I bought him,” she shares.
Costco resides next to a horse skeleton with a mounted human skeleton. “It’s how we learn where a horse is hurting and why,” she says, in reference to the importance of contact and proper weight on the horse’s reins without using a bit. “Applying pain to
a horse’s mouth to make it stop—why?” she poses. “Sit on the horse and let the horse work through you. Keep it quiet, and then the horse learns what to do with the body on it. This is the way you give the horse permission to be on the planet.”
Willcox’s novel approach led to one patent some 40 years ago. It’s a device placed around
the shoulders of the rider. Springs leading to the reins teach students how to feel soft contact with the horse’s mouth. In early childhood, Willcox had problems with her motor coordination and speech. She thinks it was autism, though no physician ever said so. “I never met a doctor who was up to par,” says Willcox. “Horses know more. Horses know what we don’t know.”
These days, Willcox puts her health first— “life care at home” without doctors—so she can continue to “appear on deck.” Earlier this year, she was told she had a small stroke and rushed to Riddle Hospital. She’s still not buying it. Her
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