HomeNewsArticle Display

Combat to cowboy boots: Airman uses horses to spread resiliency

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)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, stands 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)

Tiz, a 4 year old off-the-track throughbred, changes directions upon command from her owner, Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Nolan works with her to train for barrel racing competitions.  (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Tiz -- a 4-year-old, off-the-track thoroughbred -- changes directions upon command from her owner, Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Nolan works with her to train for barrel racing competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, leads her horses, Tiz Sunshine and Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Tiz, 4 years old, and Shoobie, 6 years old, are both off-the-track thoroughbreds. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, leads her horses, Tiz Sunshine and Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Nolan owns two off-the-track thoroughbreds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, practices her barrel racing patterns with her horse, Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Shoobie is a 6 year old off-the-track thoroughbred. Nolan works with her to train for barrel racing competitions.  (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, practices her barrel racing patterns with her horse, Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. Shoobie is a 6-year-old, off-the-track thoroughbred Nolan is training for barrel racing competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

A horse brand sits in the dirt Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. The brand belongs to Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman. The L stands for her first name, the R stands for her middle name, Rae, and the stars and stripes represents her time in service. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

A horse brand sits in the dirt Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. The brand belongs to Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman. The L stands for her first name, the R stands for her middle name, Rae, and the stars and stripes represents her time in service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Growing up, she recalled running around the woods of North Carolina trying to catch a wild horse. She had fallen in love with a flea bitten, little and gray Arabian horse, which nobody could manage to catch, except her. She wasn’t yet tall enough to put the halter on, so she would put the rope around the horse’s neck, hold her and look to her dad for help -- until she got older that is.

For Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, this is where her passion for horses began and continues 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, and both are 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.

“When I leave work, if I’m not helping out at the barn, I’m working with them on barrels,” Lauren 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.”

Much 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 wants them to be really patterned with the barrels and running well by the spring.

“I have to have a lot of patience,” Lauren said. “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 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, 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,” Lauren 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 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,” Lauren said. “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,” Lauren said. “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 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 said she wants them to look their best.

“It’s in her nature, it’s who she is and what she loves,” Teresa 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 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.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirmanMagazine: That's what friends are for😎 A @usairforce KC-10 Extender crew from @Travis60AMW gave fuel to the @BlueAngels' F-18 Ho…
On Oct. 23, Lt. Gen. Warren Berry will discuss his service, his position and the role of the #AirForce. Click the l… https://t.co/AKTwiFpSrj
RT @SecAFOfficial: It’s an exciting & historic time to be an #Airman! Thanks for serving this great nation. It’s time to increase the thrus…
RT @US_TRANSCOM: @usairforce Airmen assigned to @grandslamwing move cargo to Bagram, Afghanistan in support of @CJTFOIR. @US_TRANSCOM’s ass…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: We must keep talking, keep asking...always connecting. We owe it to our #Airmen and each other. https://t.co/vjvPVLSDdI
RT @37thTRW: Who remembers cleaning 🧼 one of these rooms for inspection at #BMT? Or the #wingman that slept beside you? 🛏 Lots of history i…
RT @DeptofDefense: .@usairforce firefighters with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron take part in a mock aircraft fire exercise at Andersen A…
RT @DeptofDefense: With a little help from my friends 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 The @usairforce @AFThunderbirds perform with the @rafredarrows in the largest a…
RT @AF_Academy: New Academy telescope will be largest available for public viewing in Colorado. https://t.co/0e4AJJTHUn https://t.co/uHT0Mb…
RT @DepSecDef: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett on confirmation as the 25th Secretary of the @usairforce. A businesswoman, attorney, dipl…
RT @30thSpaceWing: #DYK –VAFB is partially powered by a 200 acre, 28MW solar array, reducing its electrical demand by 35%, saving the base…
RT @WrightPattAFB: An @AFResearchLab team recently delivered version 2.0 of the Survival Health Awareness Responders Kit (SHARK) to @usairf
Watch the video of Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett being sworn in. Click the link to learn more about… https://t.co/agE0mT2cFj
RT @EsperDoD: Congratulations to Barbara Barrett, the 25th @SecAFOfficial. I know she will lead the charge to modernize @usairforce operati…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: It’s a great day to be an Airman. Today Barbara Barrett officially became our 25th @SecAFOfficial. The men and women…
RT @DeptofDefense: Fill em up! ⛽ KC-135 Stratotankers from @RAFMildenhall refueled over 80 F-15s in a two-day exercise, offloading 480,000…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Today I officially became the 25th Secretary of the #AirForce. I'm conscious of the extraordinary privilege of working w…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: #BomberTaskForceEurope 20-1 is in full swing and B-52s from @TeamBarksdale are operating out of RAF Fairford to improve bomb…