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The cowboy D.O.
Beyond medicine, one of Michael Clark's greatest loves is horses  

April 5, 2007
By Katie Taybus

Photos courtesy of Michael ClarkMichael Clark, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is nothing but professional when it comes to his day job. But give him some land and a horse, and the picture you get will tell a different story.

"I have been riding since I was 6 years old," said Clark. "We were too poor to have horses, so I used to sneak out at night and ride my neighbor's horse bareback."

Clark's passion for horses has existed for as long as he can remember. After getting married, he provided his wife, Eileen, with the lessons she was denied as a child. 

"She's from New York. As a little girl, she begged her parents to take riding lessons. But it was not proper where she grew up, so once I was out of medical school, I could finally afford it." 

Each summer, he goes to Wyoming to herd cattle up a mountain where they can graze. When September hits, they herd them back down to the ranch. He believes herding is a natural way to work with your horse.

They now own three horses, but Clark's special bond is shared with one -- his horse, Pace. 

Photos courtesy of Michael ClarkThat bond was deepened one summer when chasing a calf that had gotten away from the herd. Suddenly, the two found themselves waist-deep in fallen aspen. The sun had gone down and the only thing surrounding them was darkness. 

"I just held on and tried to stay balanced in the saddle.  After what seemed like an eternity, I could make out a clearing in the moonlight.  Once out of the aspens I hopped off the saddle. My legs were badly shaking, but I hugged that 1,200 pound beast. Afterwards, we just quietly stood together in the moonlight. My heart was soaring. It was just Pace, the sky, the mountain and me."

From there, Clark's love for horses has only grown. 

"When you finally get in sync with your horse, it's one of the best feelings. His instincts allow him to generally know more than you. If you stay out of his way and let him do his job, you become partners."

Clark says the best part about riding is the relationship you form with your horse.

"My 50 years experience with this truly wonderful creature has taught me that they have no hidden agenda. They are very forgiving of stupid human mistakes. If you take time to listen to them, they can teach you a lot about companionship and life itself."


Katie Taybus is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

 

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