Running around the woods of North Carolina trying to catch a wild
horse was a brave, blonde messy-haired child who everybody thought
was crazy. Crazy only because she had fallen in love with a flea
bitten, little gray Arabian horse, that almost nobody could manage
to catch, except Lauren. She wasn't yet tall enough to put the
halter on, so she would put the rope around the horses neck, hold
her and look to her dad for help—until she got older that is.
For Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness
Squadron materials management journeyman, this is where her passion
for horses began and would continue to be a blessing throughout 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,
Lauren'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.”
Stationed at McConnell Air Force Base since 2015, Lauren has two
horses that occupy her time. Tiz Sunshine, 4 years old, and Shoobie,
6 years old, are both off-the-track thoroughbreds. Lauren has owned
Tiz for two and a half years and Shoobie for about a year. She
boards them in the local community and spends her off-time taking
care of them and training them for barrel racing.
Oct. 13, 2016 - Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics
Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman with her horses, Tiz and Shoobie in Wichita, KS. When Nolan moved to McConnell
Air Force Base, KS 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 by Airman 1st Class Jenna K.
“When I leave work, if I'm not helping out at the barn,
I'm working with them on barrels,” said Lauren. “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.”
like a military training instructor develops civilians into
Airmen, training horses takes the same time and
perseverance, although a milder process. Lauren works with
the horses most every day, and has even set individual goals
for them. She want them to be really patterned with the
barrels and running well by this spring.
“I have to
have a lot of patience,” said Lauren. “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.”
Lauren also uses this
patience at work. She works in an office ordering aircraft
parts for the KC-135 Stratotanker mission. 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, her outlet
for stress is in the dusty barn and muddy pasture.
“It's very relaxing to go and just hang out with them and
get rid of all the stressors of the day,” said Lauren. “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 could.”
With the unique challenges military members face, from
frequent moves to deployments, everybody needs a way to
unwind; spending time with the horses is hers. 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,” said Lauren. “They could come ride them, brush
them or just interact with the horses to help them cope with
whatever they're dealing with.”
Lauren not only
brings Airmen out to see the horses, but the Airmen's
families as well. She specifically wants to help first-term
Airmen, like herself, who are new to base, as well as
children with deployed parents.
“I take anybody out
to see the horses who needs it,” said Lauren. “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
Just as she 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 wants
them to look their best.
“It's in her nature, it's
who she is and what she loves,” said Teresa. “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 horses.”
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 again.
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell
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