Back in the Saddle.

By: Nichole Naoum

We often find more meaning in life when we choose to contribute to the well-being of others and to the world at large. From celebrities to local leaders, many high-profile people have chosen to donate their time, energy, and financial resources to communities that need support. Such is the case with Rancho Santa Fe philanthropist — Mary Drake.

What originally motivated you to become a philanthropist?
My husband and I have been blessed and feel strongly that it is important to give back to our community. We have been active in a number of charities throughout the years. But the one that has always been closest to my heart is the Ronald McDonald house. What they provide to families who have a child across the street at Rady’s Children Hospital, or ANY hospital in San Diego, is so unique and important. I derive a great sense of satisfaction knowing that my support of the Ronald McDonald House, as well as other charities here in San Diego, helps those in need at a critical time in their lives.

Where does your love of horses stem from?
My love of horses started at a very young age. My first riding lessons were part of my Girl Scouts experience. Riding became a passion that ignited quickly and never dimmed. I worked hard to improve my riding skills as a teenager and became involved in competitive riding throughout Southern California. Though I put riding on hold after getting married and having a family, I never lost interest. I truly believe horses are amazing animals. They are very intuitive and can teach you so much about life.

Describe the process of training for equestrian competitions.
After a 40+ year hiatus from riding, it was now or never. My daughter was married with a child of her own, my husband and I had retired, and we had done all the traveling we wanted to do. Having a horse is a full-time commitment and I felt the time had finally come. I was lucky enough to find wonderful trainers – two of the best in the industry. After buying and selling several horses, I now have my two perfect geldings – Calvin and Quinn. I have lessons five days a week, several hours a day on both horses. It requires a strong mindset, a positive attitude, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and most importantly, having a relationship based on trust with your horse.

How do you spend your free time?
I am retired now, so all of my free time is spent with my husband, and of course, my horses. My husband is my number one supporter and I love hearing his cheers when my number is called by the announcer. I am also very lucky to have such wonderful women at the barn who are all in my age group. The common bond we share is like no other.