About Marcia Evans, Her Family, and Dawn-Mar Farm

The Evans Family

It was 1942 and World War II had separated newlyweds George and Eleanor Evans. The letters they exchanged were their only source of mutual encouragement, consolation, laughter and shared hopes and dreams. A recurring dream mentioned in George’s letters was his desire to buy a farm when he returned from the war. Eleanor may have dismissed the idea if it had appeared briefly in one or two letters, but it soon became apparent that George was serious and Eleanor wanted to make his dream come true.

Determined to surprise her returning hero, Eleanor traveled from New York City to Hopkinton, New Hampshire in search of the dream. The property on Stumpfield Road was exactly what she had pictured, an expansive148 acres with a big white house that appeared to need some TLC. Three foot snow drifts prevented entry, but Eleanor was assured that it had all the essentials including running water and electricity. The fact that it had a romantic history was compelling as well. A huge barn that existed on the property was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938. It had once served as a transfer station for horses along the stage coach line. Eleanor was so captured by the beauty of the land that she signed on the dotted line and the farm was theirs.

Surprise turned to shock when the young couple finally took possession of their love nest. The only running water was a stream entering one side of the basement and exiting the other. Right in the middle of the stream was the cook stove that had fallen through the floor boards above. The electricity was limited to one light bulb in an out-of-the-way closet. It was okay though because they were in this together.

George fixed what needed fixing. He single handedly built the barn that was to become home to five thousand chickens and another barn that housed the cows. Two daughters, five years apart, were added blessings. . Eleanor worked as secretary to the president of New England College until she retired to take care of her youngest child, George, who had Down syndrome.

Marcia, the middle child, showed an uncanny empathy for and had an unusual connection with animals. At the tender age of five, it was her job to remove from the chicken house any chickens that had expired. Instead of removing them, she would prop them up in hopes that repositioning them might precipitate their resurrection. A beloved border collie, always at Marcia’s heels, threw himself between Marcia and a charging bull, saving her young life. Marcia’s first horse was actually a cow. She begged for a horse, but when none appeared, she climbed up on a Guernsey named Cupie and rode bareback. Cupie never complained. Later in Marcia’s career, her dad bought a stallion named King. He’d been horribly mistreated and badly burned and consequently no longer trusted people. No one could get near him, let alone ride him. Marcia befriended King and he would gladly take her anywhere.

Eventually, the chicken business was out of business. There were only a dozen or so laying chickens left. Marcia never gave up hoping for a horse. Dad broke horses in the stock yards in New York and he really wasn’t against owning one, but he considered the expense of taking care of a horse a luxury they couldn’t afford. When Marcia was eleven, she and her dad made a deal. She would collect the chicken eggs and sell them. When she earned enough money, she could buy a horse. At fifty cents a dozen, it took one year to save forty-eight dollars. Marcia and her dad contacted a dealer to find a horse they could afford. When they got Skippy home, Mr. Evans wanted to see how the horse rode. As soon as he got on, Skippy literally sat down. No one could ride her until Marcia tried. The big, elderly, tumor laden paint accepted Marcia as her rider. Marcia’s first horse was old and infirm, but she knew she was loved.

When Mr. Evans traded one of his steers for a six year old Morgan named Lady, there was no turning back. Horses were in their blood. Even young George was smitten with the horses. He started riding when he was just four years old. When he fell off his Shetland pony and broke his arm, he wanted to get right back on. Marcia understood early on how a relationship with a special horse can enhance the life of someone with special needs, like her brother George.

Marcia’s dad taught her the basics of riding. She joined 4-H and competed at local shows. She continued to learn by watching the winning riders. Lady eventually took Marcia from County competitions to State competitions and on to Eastern States. Marcia was a natural, always wanting to learn more. She wanted to try everything and she did.

Her parents staunchly supported Marcia in all her endeavors. Her dad helped with the horses and gave her advice when needed. Her mom never became a horse woman, but even better, as an extremely talented seamstress, she designed and created costumes all through Marcia’s career. She dressed not only Marcia, but all her Special Olympians and 4-H’ers. Presentation is a big part of showing horses and the support Marcia received from her mom was invaluable. The pride her parents felt for Marcia’s accomplishments was always apparent.

Lady was with Marcia for twenty-six years until she was thirty-two years old. Marcia and Lady’s filly, Queen Anne, achieved the second level in Olympic trials while training with Linden Grey under Barbara Kemp and Colonel Burton. When a tragic (non horse related) accident side-lined them, their Olympic hope was ended. Constant pain, physical therapy and a ten year stint in a leg brace did not, however, end Marcia’s love of riding and determination to excel. The New England Dressage Association hired famous trainers from Europe to train promising American riders. Marcia was recognized as a rider worthy of this exceptional opportunity. During this training Marcia decided to take advantage of a judging course that was being offered and discovered how much that venue suited her. All this time, after three unsuccessful surgeries, she was still dealing with chronic pain and using a leg brace to walk. Finally, she was referred to a surgeon at Harvard Medical School who used a new procedure to greatly improve the mobility in her knee.

Marcia loved to ride, but she also loved to share her knowledge of horses and riding with others. She found many ways to accomplish this. She became a 4-H leader in 1970, teaching children not only how to ride, but also to understand and respect a horse’s feelings. The children learned that horses are sensitive to their rider’s feelings as well. Her students became aware that riding is a partnership between horse and rider. Marcia became a Pony Club instructor in l976, always striving to learn and impart her knowledge to others.

In 1975 Marcia fulfilled another life long desire. She knew she wanted to help other animals and thought the best way to do so was to become a veterinarian. Although that goal was out of reach, she did begin a career as a veterinary technician. She was grateful for the valuable knowledge she gained in the fourteen years she worked for several area vets including Dr. Stevens, Dr. Cotton and Dr. Furness. That experience has given her a tremendous advantage when her horses need medical attention.

In 1989, Special Olympics came to New Hampshire. That year Marcia entered her brother George and a little girl named Jessica. In order to become a Special Olympics instructor, she had to be qualified in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Each state had somewhat different stipulations. Instructors must be qualified to ride all seats, including hunt seat, western, saddle seat and side saddle. Marcia taught one child to ride side saddle and she was entered into a costume class. She rode Sugar and dressed as Mary Poppins. In 1995 Marcia took seventeen drivers to Special Olympics. They were the only team from the United States that participated in carriage driving. Marcia truly does it all!

Special Olympics is a competition for people of all ages with special needs. Generally, 4-H is a program for children and young adults without special needs. Marcia is the only instructor in the state who doesn’t recognize a difference. In 2003, Marcia fought to have her special needs kids become eligible to compete in 4-H competitions. Up until that time, it was unheard of. Marcia is passionate about convincing 4-H leaders everywhere of the advantages that all the competitors receive. Her children learn valuable lessons from each other, offer support and cheer each other on. They enter the program as strangers and become friends. They learn to embrace differences and to respect each others point of view. If you take time to look at the pictures documenting Marcia’s career, you’ll see happiness all around.

Marcia is qualified to teach all equestrian seats. She is also a jumping and driving instructor. Hippotherapy is another service she provides through the use of her horses. Hippotherapy, simply stated, means treatment with the help of a horse. Some impairments that may be modified with hippotherapy are abnormal tone, impaired balance responses, impaired coordination and communication, sensorimotor function, postural asymmetry, poor postural control, decreased mobility, motivation and attention. People such as those with autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, sensory integration dysfunction, learning disorders and a variety of physical impairments have been shown to benefit from their work with horses.

Today, special children and special horses continue to find Marcia. She knows that no matter how old or infirm a horse is, it needs to have a purpose. Children with a goal to achieve, no matter how small, are happier. She puts children and horses together who don’t demand much of each other, but who give each other exactly what is needed, love, respect, kindness, enthusiasm and joy.

Marcia inherited the love gene from her parents and has shared it with an infinite number of people and animals. She wants every person and every horse to achieve their full potential and to receive the love and respect they deserve.

This love story began with George and Eleanor and continues with their children, Marcia and George and all the people and animals whose lives have been touched by their good hearts.

For more information on Marcia’s teaching credentials, please visit our website at www Shared-Gifts.org.

Click here for Marcia's resume