Back in the Saddle: Meet Kara Noble G'18
Even when Kara Noble was young, she loved to write. It was what she thought she would do in her future. But life, as for many of us, didn’t go as planned for Kara. Over time, family demands and responsibilities meant she had to put aside her dreams and take a 9 to 5 job.
And then came a moment when she discovered, “I can still do this.” Kara knew she had to rebuild her skill set and make connections if she wanted to resume a writing life. She enrolled in Bay Path’s Creative Nonfiction MFA, and selected the teaching track because it would expand her toolbox of expertise.
Pursuing an Author’s Life
Today, Kara has picked up where she left off so many years ago. “I’m pursuing an author’s life that combines my two favorite passions: writing and horses,” states Kara. “My main gig is with Quarterly: The Icelandic Horse magazine. When I was in the MFA program at Bay Path, I wanted to practice the skills I was studying. I went to Icelandic Horse and they accepted a couple of my articles for the magazine. After I graduated, they asked if I wanted to join their editorial board. Of course, as a proud owner of two Icelandic horses, I said ‘Yes!’ Now, I’m a regular writer and columnist for the magazine. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your work published.”
Kara is also a lover of horses. Currently, she has two Icelandic mares so she feels very strongly about the breed. As a writer, she finds her stories are very much a learning experience. “There is a broad range of topics I cover. I could be doing a profile, or an in-depth piece about a farm, training techniques, or breeding program. It’s limitless.”
One of the World’s Oldest Breeds
According to Kara, Icelandic horses are considered one of the oldest and purest breeds in the world. They were originally brought to Iceland by Vikings from Norway, who established the first permanent settlements on the island around 870. Additional horses were brought by colonists from Scandinavia and the British Isles until about 960 AD.
Very few horses came to the island after that date, which was when the fledgling Icelandic government severely restricted and ultimately banned the import of horses to protect its equine populations from diseases that were ravaging European horses. As a result, the horses of Iceland were isolated and their bloodlines were kept very pure. The modern Icelandic horses are physically and temperamentally very like the ones that lived on the island 1,000 years ago.
Even today, no horse may be imported into Iceland, and a horse that is exported from the country can never return. You cannot even bring used tack (e.g., saddles, bridles) or riding clothes into the country. The policy may seem strict, but because of it, there are no known communicable equine illnesses on Iceland--the horses do not need to be vaccinated or wormed as long as they live there.
Early Icelanders were also meticulous record keepers, assigning every horse a number and charting all breedings. They have continued to do so, as have owners in other countries where Icelandics are present, resulting in one of the most extensive breed registries of any horse breed in the world. An owner can use the registry, called Worldfengur, to trace a horse's pedigree back for generations.
Incredibly, there are now more Icelandic horses outside of Iceland than there are on the island. Due to their size, versatility, and temperaments, the Icelandic horse continues to increase in popularity, particularly in Scandinavia, Germany, and the United States.
Icelandics are legendary in the horse world and are treated with almost reverence, but they are not immune to owners who neglect or who simply cannot afford to stable and feed animals in their care. Gola was one of those horses.
It was several years ago that Kara received a frantic call from a friend of a friend. They had just bought an Icelandic from a kill auction in Oklahoma. The horse’s name was Gola. Abandoned in a field, she was almost feral. The request was to the point: Would Kara take Gola? Quickly, Kara lined up a horse van that would meet the slaughterhouse truck in upstate New York that was on its way to Canada. Soon, Gola was heading to her new home in western Massachusetts.
Using her connections, Kara built a support team consisting of a trainer, farrier, and other owners to work with Gola. It took time, but Gola developed a level of trust with people, and became a member of the barn family. After so much hardship, Gola found her paradise.
One project led to another…
Kara found that focusing on what was meaningful to her opened the door to other projects. She is also penning articles for Massachusetts Horse, a bimonthly magazine for horse owners, professionals, enthusiasts, and businesses in the Bay State. And she is writing a column for Southwoods Magazine, begun by her father-in-law, Clifton Noble, Sr. His extensive life diaries became the basis of a popular “Back Then…” monthly feature, and Kara has continued the tradition since his death in 2016. Finally, she became involved in a long term project at Smith College that is revising the Fulbright section on their website.
It’s apparent that Kara has found a rewarding and successful writing life. No day is ever the same, and she is now free to let her mind’s curiosity and creativity thrive. And although she is getting paid to do what she loves, the rewards are limitless.
Kara Noble G'18 lives on a small farm in Montgomery, Massachusetts, with her human family, and her extended family of (3) cats, (1) dog, two donkeys, and two Icelandic horses. The name of her rescue horse, Gola, means “gentle breeze” in Icelandic.