State College

Horsing around at Ag Progress Days

Fourteen-year-old Norwegian fjord horse Dagney waits for his turn in arena carriage racing at Ag Progress Days on Tuesday. Dagney’s owner Lindy Hild, who grew up in State College, fell in love with the breed when she saw one at Ag Progress Days.
Fourteen-year-old Norwegian fjord horse Dagney waits for his turn in arena carriage racing at Ag Progress Days on Tuesday. Dagney’s owner Lindy Hild, who grew up in State College, fell in love with the breed when she saw one at Ag Progress Days. adrey@centredaily.com

There’s something to be said for tempting fate. Usually it comes in the shape of warning.

Dagney is the name of Lindy Hild’s Norwegian fjord horse. It means “wonderful day” in Norwegian — and in this case could also be considered something of a massive jinx.

Hild and her trusty steed will be part of the driving derby at this year’s Ag Progress Days, an obstacle course involving a carriage, a horse and a whole lot of trust.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s very, very addicting,” Hild said.

While superstition seems to be the furthest thing from Hild’s mind, it still seems like precautions could have been taken.

Tina, Joanne, Betty — all of them are good, strong names for a good, strong horse and seem far less likely to wind up as the central pun in a headline crafted by a member of the press who happens to speak Norwegian (no danger of that here).

It’s a lot of fun. It’s very, very addicting.

Lindy Hild

Hild wasn’t paying attention to any of these possibilities when she named Dagney — people tend to ignore the small stuff when they are in the process of fulfilling a lifelong dream.

She grew up in State College, in a house located across from the Nittany Lion Inn.

Her father was a professor at Penn State, a good career that nevertheless put a bit of a strain on her dreams of equine ownership.

“Four kids on a professor’s salary — there wasn’t going to be a horse,” Hild said

Even without a little pony all of her own, life continued onward. Hild graduated from State College Area High School in 1971, received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Penn State in 1975 and even got herself hitched to a nice man in Eisenhower Chapel.

Her family now resides in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, but they pop back into town almost once a month to visit Hild’s father.

During one of these visits, nearly 15 years ago, she laid eyes on her first Norwegian fjord horse at Ag Progress Days.

To claim that it was love at first sight would be clichéd and a tad melodramatic, so instead suffice it to say that the fjords were the ponies of the Vikings.

And if it’s good enough for a Viking…

“They are very versatile. You can do just about anything with a fjord horse,” Hild said.

“Just about anything” should come in handy this week. The dynamic duo of Hild and Dagney will compete at Ag Progress Days through Thursday, a 72-hour period based on the sport of combined driving that is designed to test the strength of the connection between woman and horse.

They are very versatile. You can do just about anything with a fjord horse.

Lindy Hild

Hild will direct Dagney around multiple obstacles, which is a lot trickier than it sounds laid out here in print.

“It’s the only sport where the ball has a mind of its own,” Hild said.

As it is with any mutually satisfying relationship, trust is key.

Back home in Virginia, Hild works three 12-hour shifts a week in the operating room of a local hospital.

Whatever time she has left over is devoted to her family and Dagney.

“It’s basically like establishing a relationship with another person,” Hild said

She’s not complaining. That equine is the apple of Hild’s eye and their bond is most definitely the end, not the means.

So sure, Dagney can tempt fate all she wants — it’ll be a wonderful day regardless.

“I hope to show everybody what a marvelous breed it is,” Hild said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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