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91-year-old surprised with holiday horseback ride

PARK CITY — Barbara Wynn grew up riding her horse, Tony, and racing other children in her Layton neighborhood.

That was decades ago. But Friday, the 91-year-old saddled up once more at the National Ability Center in Park City. She spent a little less than an hour walking laps atop Rebekka "Dill," a light brown Norwegian Fjord that appeared in the film "The Thirteenth Warrior."

"That was fun," Wynn said after dismounting, "more fun than I've had in a long time."

Wynn's ride was part of a holiday surprise organized by Canyon Creek Assisted Living and Memory Care in Cottonwood Heights, where she lives. Canyon Creek, through a program called Tailored Preference, provides "mini Make-A-Wish" experiences for residents, program coordinator Randi Wilson said, as well as helping new residents acclimate to assisted living.

"We're their first friend here," Wilson said. "We have lunch with them. We get them involved in activities."

Wynn's son Jim Wynn helped organize the surprise, coordinating with Canyon Creek staff and getting approval from Barbara Wynn's doctor. He stood nearby while his mother rode, snapping pictures and offering encouragement.

"It's great," he said. "She hasn't done anything like this in a long time."

Wilson said each resident's Tailored Preference experience is different, with some wishing to go skydiving or attend a fashion show. She said the experiences often stem from the resident's youth. In the case of Wynn, she said that if she could do anything, she would want to get back on a horse.

"Her face just lit up when we told her she was going horseback riding," Wilson said.

Barbara Wynn said the experience was "better than old times." She said that as a child she went horseback riding all the time, but it had been around 50 years since her last experience riding a horse.

"I can't even remember," she said of her last ride. "It's been years and years."

Barbara Wynn is the mother of five children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Jim Wynn said.

Her secret to longevity?

"Good living and enjoying life," she said.

Email:, Twitter: bjaminwood