A Horse With Three Lives

By Emily Hopcian ’12, Photography by Tim Black

Lylle’s story started in 1999 at a thoroughbred farm in Ocala, Fla., when she was born into what would become a famous family—as far as horse families go, that is. (Peace Rules, perhaps the most successful of Lylle’s siblings, came in third at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preaknes­­s in 2003.)

When she was three months old, Lylle (pronounced “Lily”) was purchased by investors from Miami. They raised her to become a racehorse, and three years later, she won three small races, but retired at the end of the year, never quite reaching the kind of stardom her brother enjoyed. She was a little like the third Olsen sister.

The investors sent Lylle to a trainer in Atlanta, Ga., before she found a more permanent home in North Carolina with Howard Grubbs ’68, his wife Mary Jo, and their then-13-year-old daughter Meg, who had developed a love of horses and riding. Lylle trained and competed with Meg for four years, before Meg developed new interests and the Grubbs family decided it was time for Lylle to move on. However, finding a good match proved difficult.
One day, though, as Howard read Denison Magazine, he wondered whether or not the school would want Lylle for the equestrian team. After several conversations with the school and coach Claudia Hutchinson, the Grubbs family sold Lylle to Hutchinson in 2008 for $1.

Now Lylle lives less than five miles from campus on Hutchinson’s farm with 15 other horses—10 of which the equestrian team rides regularly. Maggie Reagan ’12 (pictured) says that Lylle is known for her love of food (hay anyone?) and canny ability to pose for photographs. Seems about right for a horse that’s been in the spotlight most of her life.


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