Air Force Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan remembers running around the woods of North Carolina trying to catch a wild horse while she was growing up in North Carolina. She had fallen in love with a flea-bitten, little and gray Arabian horse that nobody could manage to catch, except her.
Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, poses for a photo with her horses, Tiz and Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. When Nolan moved to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. her first duty station she had her horses shipped to the area and now boards them off-base in the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)
Not yet tall enough to put the halter on, she said, she
would put the rope around the horse's neck and look to her
dad for help.
For Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness
Squadron materials management journeyman, this is where her
passion for horses began, and that passion continues to be a
blessing in her Air Force career.
“She can pick up on
a horse's personality in a second; she has a natural gift
with them,” said Teresa Nolan, the airman's mother. “Lauren
would always get up really early. By the time I woke up, she
would already be out in the pasture to see her horse and
have her tied up, grooming her by herself.”
here since 2015, Lauren has two horses that occupy her time:
Tiz Sunshine, 4 years old, and Shoobie, 6 years old, both
off-the-track thoroughbreds. She boards them in the local
community and spends her off-duty time taking care of them
and training them for barrel racing.
“When I leave
work, if I'm not helping out at the barn, I'm working with
them on barrels,” Nolan said. “Shoobie is a diva, and Tiz is
a little doll button. If you're trying to teach Shoobie
something and she doesn't understand, she'll give you
attitude right back. Tiz will do whatever you tell her; she
doesn't care. She will stand there, look at you and stick
her tongue out at you -- she is so quirky.”
Time and Perseverance
Much as a military training instructor develops
civilians into airmen, training horses takes the same time
and perseverance, although it's a milder process. Nolan
works with the horses almost every day, and has even set
individual goals for them. She wants them to be patterned
with the barrels and running well by the spring, she said.
“I have to have a lot of patience,” she
added. “You can't take a 1,200-pound animal and turn it into
a superstar overnight. It takes months and months, but it's
very rewarding to take a horse that didn't really have a
chance, work with it and make it into something.”
Nolan also uses patience at work. She works in an office
ordering aircraft parts for the KC-135 Stratotanker. The
stress of having the responsibility of ordering millions of
dollars' worth of equipment and the potential for mistakes
can be somewhat daunting. If she has a bad day at work, she
said, her outlet for stress is in the dusty barn and muddy
“It's very relaxing to go and just hang out
with them and get rid of all the stressors of the day,”
Nolan said. “My family is over 1,000 miles away. I can't see
them but once a year, so the horses mean everything to me.
Tiz and Shoobie have helped me more than anything else ever
With the unique challenges military
members face, from frequent moves to deployments, everybody
needs a way to unwind. Spending time with the horses is
Nolan's way, and realizing how much Tiz and Shoobie help
her, she is sharing this experience with others.
“Every once in a while, I'll take airmen out
to see them so they can have their little getaway,” she
said. “They could come ride them, brush them or just
interact with the horses to help them cope with whatever
they're dealing with.”
Nolan also brings airmen's
families out to see the horses. She specifically wants to
help first-term airmen who are new to base, as well as
children with deployed parents, she said.
anybody out to see the horses who needs it,” she added.
“Being on base and in military life is stressful for a lot
of the people. It has impacted and helped everybody I have
ever brought out there -- you can see it. The kids grin,
laugh and giggle the whole time. It's instant. They get all
giddy the moment they see them.”
Just as Nolan takes
pride in her work as an airman, she has pride in her horses.
When she brings other people out to the barn to see Tiz and
Shoobie, she said, she wants them to look their best.
“It's in her nature, it's who she is and what she
loves,” Teresa Nolan said. “Lauren will do whatever she has
to do to keep them healthy and well-fed, even it means she's
not going to have something, just to take care of the
She gets off work and switches from combat
boots to cowboy boots. When she gets to the barn and heads
to the pasture to round up the horses, she stops in her
tracks. She's got fellow airmen coming to the barn to see
the horses and Shoobie looks like a walking mud puddle from
rolling on the ground after a night of Kansas rain.
With a sigh, a few words mumbled under her breath and a hint
of smile, she gets the watering hose and brush. Here they go
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell
DOD News / Defense Media Activity
Comment on this article