Retirement Dream Come True

How an F-350 helped make this couple’s equestrian adventures possible.

By Kathy Sena

Power. Comfort. Beauty. Barbara Kerr and her husband, John, appreciate all three attributes in their pair of sleek, smooth-riding Tennessee walking horses. They found the same things to love in their 2015 F-350 Super Duty Lariat, which is making their post-retirement dream of traveling with their horses come true.

“I love its power,” says Barbara. “We have driven in lots of wind and rain, and the F-350 wasn’t affected, even pulling the loaded horse trailer. It just purrs up those mountains.”

Sixteen years ago, this idyllic retirement wasn’t an easy thing to picture for the couple, who live in the Badger Canyon area of eastern Washington, near Benton City. “In 2001, I had a lumpectomy in my breast and then radiation for six weeks,” says Barbara. Then in the winter of 2007, she discovered a large lump. “Because of my history, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy.”

Her light at the end of the tunnel? A sleek Tennessee walking horse named Cabaret's Dark Spirit—nicknamed “The Kid.” The couple bought him, but Barbara wasn’t cleared by her doctors to ride until spring. “The Kid became the goal. I was going to ride him,” she says. “In the meantime, I could pet him and smell him and watch this beautiful horse.” In 2010, they bought The Kid’s sister, Cowgirl Rightup, and nicknamed her “The Girl.”

“In addition to the other surgery, I’ve had back surgery, and John has had neck surgery, so the easy gait of the Tennessee walkers is perfect for us. I can’t hike up a mountain, but I can ride a horse there. It gives me such joy.”

The couple’s F-350 also has played a big part in making life a lot more fun—and more comfortable, says Barbara, who retired in 2015. “My retirement dream was to drive with our two horses across Washington and Utah,” she says. “I love the truck’s beautiful interior, but I purchased it for its toughness.”

The couple also chose an upgrade package that included seats that were more adjustable. Can a truck’s interior be the automotive equivalent of the Tennessee walker’s smooth gait? Absolutely, says Barbara. “It’s so easy to drive, even with a camper and horse trailer, and the seats are so comfortable. They really fit our bodies. Even with his disabilities, John can travel distances comfortably in the adjustable, luxurious seats.”

They began their trail-riding adventures last year, first to areas close to home, ramping up for a big trip to southern Utah, with the end goal of reaching Bryce Canyon.

“Unfortunately, we were riding with friends in Paria Canyon, near Kanab, Utah, and one of their horses got stuck in quicksand!” says Barbara. With the help of several people and a 10-foot lead rope, they were able to free the horse, which was uninjured. But that misadventure meant they never made it to Bryce Canyon. “So we’re making plans to return soon to check that off our bucket list,” she adds.

“It’s important to me that we can haul safely, as my horses are not only a major investment, they are the joy and love of my retirement,” says Barbara. “I can’t give enough praise for our F-350. It helped make my retirement dream come true.”

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