Resident Spotlight: Joan Cantrell

May 30, 2023 by Morningside Ministries

Although Joan Cantrell just moved to The Chandler Estate this past July after living in Houston for 60 years, she is already a very active resident at our Morningside community. You’ll often see her participating in Texercise classes and Chair Volleyball events at The Chandler. She stays active not only because it’s great for her health, but also because she is in constant training as an award-winning, competitive saddle horse rider. For Joan, horse riding keeps her active and improves her strength, endurance, and stamina. As a lifelong Texan, she has always been riding, and rode pasture horses when she was a child growing up in Port Arthur, Texas.

Although she rode horses throughout her youth, she took a hiatus from riding when she began her teaching career and started a family. Horse riding never left Joan’s system, however, and her passion was re-ignited at the age of 42 when her younger daughter started taking American Saddlebred lessons. Joan also began to ride lesson horses with her daughter and has never stopped riding since.

At the age of 55, after she retired from teaching high school math for 30 years (she was also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston for six years), she bought her first horse and continued her training as a competitive Saddlebred horse rider. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, after surgery, she rode throughout her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She says her lack of hair then would initiate many conversations at horse shows and other public places. She would get back from a horse show on Sunday and undergo chemo treatment on Monday. The Houston Chronicle featured Joan in an article in 2005 about her competing in the two-week “Pin Oak Charity Horse Show” which she helped organize.

Now at the age of 83, Joan continues to compete in American Saddlebred competitions in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky. Joan has been inducted into the Texas American Saddlehorse Hall of Fame. To prepare for a ride, she sits quietly and claims God’s Peace, Joy and Calmness. Joan rides to win, but the ultimate goal is just to have fun, therefore, she never loses. Joan’s show horse is a chestnut gelding, Lots of Laughs, stabled and trained with Tommy Benton in Baton Rouge, LA. Both of her two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica, and her husband, Dick, support her riding. Jessica is also a competitive Saddlehorse rider. Joan says that riding is great for little girls – once it gets in your system, it will be a lasting passion.