by Katherine O. Rizzo with photo by Allison Oyler (first published in the August 2022 Equiery)
Wendy Winett Costello of Kent Island had a dream of completing a Century Ride (where the combined age of rider and horse competing at a dressage show is 100 or more). She had wanted to do this ride on her stallion Donavan, who was 28 years old when Wendy was 72. However, Donavan’s soundness and age prevented him from showing again so she revised her plan to compete his son, Duesenjaeger, when she turned 76 in 2022 and the gelding would be 24. Sadly, Wendy died of cancer on December 3, 2020.
Wendy grew up in Missouri and transferred to George Washington University in D.C. where she met Marty Costello, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Wendy graduated in 1968, and a year later the two were married at the Naval Academy Chapel. Over the next few years, Wendy, Marty, and their two children, Adam and Jill, moved around the country while Marty was a Marine Corps pilot.
After leaving military life, Wendy’s love of horses changed her career from a school teacher to a sport horse breeder. She purchased her first broodmare in 1995 and established a successful breeding operation at Riverland Farm in Wisconsin. In addition to her broodmares, Wendy added the Elite Hanoverian stallion Donavan as her foundation stallion and later added the Oldenburg stallion Rossall to her breeding program. Both stallions were trained and competed by Jessica Jo Tate.
In 2007, the Costellos moved their breeding operation to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, establishing Kent Island Sporthorses. There she produced countless quality sporthorses mainly for dressage and show jumping.
After Wendy’s death, the idea of a Century Ride had been temporarily forgotten until last August when Marty asked Elizabeth Schneider about All Zippbarred Up’s age. J.R. as he is known, is a Quarter Horse Marty had once owned, but is now owned by Marie Dungey. Schneider had taken Wendy’s remaining horses to her Thistle Dew Dressage in Calvert County and found new homes for some, like J.R. Marty, who had ridden occasionally in a western saddle, had never had riding lessons until he became determined to complete the Century Ride for his late wife.
With the help of Schneider and a neighbor, Marty at 75, learned to ride dressage and on June 25 of this year at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, Marty and the 25-year-old All Zippbarred Up not only completed the Century Ride, but they won the Intro level class at PVDA’s Ride for Life that day. The annual Ride for Life competition raises funds and awareness for John Hopkin’s Cancer Research Center.