Donovan “Van” Ketzler is 89 years old, and in some ways, it shows. He moves slowly, with a shuffle step, and he's a bit hard of hearing. Though he stands with the upright posture of a proud military veteran, his head and shoulders stoop, creating a slight hunch. His hands are a topography of wrinkles and raised veins. After a series of surgeries, his rotator cuffs are nonexistent. “I can move my arm this high,” he says, raising his left arm just below chest level. Nonetheless, in a few minutes Ketzler will do something that would seem impossible to an onlooker but that anyone who knows him understands is the defining characteristic of his remarkable life.
It's a gorgeous spring morning at the Starborn Farm stables in Valley, the first nice day of the year, and Ketzler and his longtime friend Vicki Krecek are brushing the winter coat off a white horse called Snowdrift, or “Snowy” for short.