JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
“That was the one negotiation that came with marrying into the military,” Tiffany Wisley said. “If my horse can't come, it's not going to work.”
Tiffany, a veterinarian’s assistant, recalls looking at photos of her father holding her as a baby with her family’s horses. They owned horses all her life and by the time marriage was on the table, she had one of her own--Spooks.
She rescued Spooks a decade ago out of a show barn in Tennessee where his quality of life was not ideal. In return, Spooks helps with her stress and anxiety, and, according to Tiffany, saves her on a daily basis.
“Spooks got me through a lot of hardships in life,” Tiffany said. “Hard family times, my husband's deployment to Korea for a year--that was our first deployment. I was pregnant, I lost my dog and he was like my first child ever. He improves my quality of life.”
Growing up, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Wisley, 83rd Network Operations Squadron boundary protection supervisor, didn’t know one day he’d own a horse, let alone two.
Although Cody has owned his horse Steel for only two years, he too finds comfort in the bond he’s formed with him.
“It's better than having a dog. Having a horse; it's a different kind of bond,” Cody said. “He just helps me if I’m having a bad day-- it’s just nice.”
Although the Wisleys’ children are too young to ride, Tiffany said that she enjoys seeing the spark in her sons’ eyes for the very thing that fuels her passion.
“They love kids and the kids love the horses--the kids are fierce, fearless little things,” Tiffany said. “My 3-year-old will jump on and just start saying, ‘yah, yah’ just trying to make them run. He’s my child--payback times 10.”
The Wisleys have enjoyed owning horses so much they moved on base to be closer to the stables. They’ve also assumed key roles at the Langley Saddle Club. Cody serves as the clubs’s treasurer, while Tiffany is the primary feeder. She is responsible for all aspects of the horses care when it comes to feeding, medicating, and letting them out each morning and in for the evening.
“I'm a hands-on kind of person and I want to be able to see my horses every day,” Tiffany said. “It's hard enough being a military spouse. I feel like at times you have to give up so much, so to be able to take your passion with you; I don't even have words for it.”
According to Cody, the Wisley family usually takes their time at the stables as an opportunity to spend quality time together. However, he said horse ownership also helps him be a more responsible person-- something he and his wife hopes to pass on to their children.
“I love the values it teaches the kids at a very early age,” Tiffany said. “My dad taught us the value of a penny. If we wanted lunch money, we were mucking stalls. If we didn't clean stalls that day, we didn't go buy lunch.”
For Tiffany, however, the biggest lesson that can be taught through owning horses is affection.
“I get nothing but love from them. It's nothing fancy. We don't get money from it,” Tiffany said. “It’s the values, respect and love. They make me a better person, hands down, a better mom and a better wife.”