It’s not unusual for family members to have similar interests, but when it comes to the Ehle family of Orefield, Pa., dedication comes in dual categories-nursing and horseback riding. Nancy Palombo Ehle ’81 BSN is chief financial officer at Lehigh Anesthesia Associates in Allentown, a practice owned and founded by her husband Bob, a nurse anesthetist. Nancy and Bob have supported and encouraged daughter Ally’s interest in equestrian events all the way to the international level. Ally, a junior nursing student at Villanova following in her mother’s footsteps, rides American Saddlebred horses and in August of last year won the Adult 5-Gaited Pleasure class at the prestigious World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Ky..
While her daughter Ally is a world champion, Nancy is also an accomplished, longtime rider. She translates the cool control and quick reactions needed in her former career as a critical care nurse to equestrian events. In saddle seat competitions (a type of English riding), Nancy demonstrates the graceful, high trotting gait of her horse Albert, also known as CH Out Go The Lights, and with much success. In May, she placed second at The Bonnie Blue Horse Show in Virginia in the Adult Country Pleasure Division and also won two blue ribbons at The Raleigh Spring Premier Horse Show in North Carolina in March in the Novice Country Pleasure Division—impressive showings for an equestrian who has only been in the show ring for just over a year. “I am thrilled to be showing and competing,” Nancy notes. She continues to impress the judges this summer. In June, Nancy won the championship in Adult Country Pleasure at the 38th Syracuse International Horse Show held at the New York State Fairgrounds.
Underneath the elegance one sees in saddle seat is the sheer strength required to work so closely and precisely with a highly trained, 1200-pound horse. It is a connection that is vital. "Riding saddle seat is physically and mentally challenging,” explains Nancy. “I must stay on top of my game at all times to be competitive in this sport.” It is a demanding devotion but it seems this nursing alumna has the solution. “At times it is difficult because of all of the other things going on in my life: wife, mother, volunteer, etc…I find that balance is the key to success," she explains.
Now daughter Ally anxiously awaits results during shows as her mother competes, just as her Nancy does for her. Riding has added a special dimension to their lives both inside and outside the rail, one that Nancy hopes will endure, “Ally and I have a wonderful time being in this sport together and share a special bond that I feel to fortunate to have with my daughter. I hope we can continue to ride our beautiful horses for a long, long time.”