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July 2013

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Tony Ratcliffe - Never Too Old to Try Something New

Tony RatcliffeCIS Professor Tony Ratcliffe decided last year that he wanted to take up a new sport – horseback riding. Why horses?  Tony says he was afraid of horses ever since he worked at a horse farm in Berryville, Va., and he realized how big and powerful they were.  By taking riding lessons, he hopes to overcome his fear.

He adds, “It’s a matter of trying to do new things, and trying something different.”  He really enjoys the weekly lessons he takes in Singers Glen.  “I love it; I’m having a good time. Last week went well; I was feeling more of one with the horse. Bucky (his horse) and I reached an agreement, so we had a smooth ride.”

His instructor, Emily Henry, works on the basics, like starting, stopping, and turning. She is also teaching him how to post at the trot.  He says, “I really like Emily. She’s very good, very patient.”  Tony started going back to the gym, which keeps him in better shape for riding. He has plans to take a trail ride on the beach during his summer vacation.

He actually enjoyed his first trail ride a few years ago in Griffith Park in Los Angeles.  That experience got him thinking about trying to ride more. He also went trail riding in Lost River State Park in West Virginia. Tony thinks one day he may own his own horse, and board it nearby. When his daughter, Jessie, was younger, she begged for a horse, but it didn’t fit into their apartment very well.

His goal is to become comfortable with the horse, and be able to handle horse the horse.  “I don’t see myself as being a high jumper, but maybe I’ll take a few low jumps,” he laughs.  He took a tumble off Bucky a few weeks ago, which helped to lessen his fear of falling.

In addition to riding, Tony enjoys skiing and flower gardening. In fact, he tends to several of his neighbors’ gardens.

Tony grew up in Berryville, Va., and attended JMU after earning his associate’s degree from Lord Fairfax Community College. He graduated from JMU with a degree in marketing and management, then went on to earn his MBA.  He stated teaching in 1986, and has been at JMU either part time or full time since then. 

Tony still enjoys teaching, although he says his patience sometimes wears thin.  He particularly likes interacting with the students. There is always a long line of students outside his office door, patiently waiting to talk with him.

Tony’s future plans include more horseback riding, and maybe a jump from a plane.  After all, you’re never too old to try new things!