For Karen Shank, horsing around is serious businessKaren...


August 22, 1993|By Wayne Hardin

For Karen Shank, horsing around is serious business

Karen Shank didn't want much -- just a situation in which she could use her veterinary skills and knowledge of six languages, teach riding, work with horses and do some riding herself.

Being a veterinarian in private practice in upstate New York didn't seem to be the answer. So she set her sights on new territory.

"I thought, if it's going to work anywhere, what better place could there be than Washington," says Dr. Shank, 29.

Last October, she joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture and now works in the international services division in Hyattsville dealing with such matters as sending cattle embryos to Switzerland or getting fruit from Chile. In international agriculture, she gets plenty of chances to use her German,

French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese language skills.

But she also wanted to be involved with riding and dressage training. So about a month ago, says the Perrysburg, Ohio, native, she took a second job, as resident veterinarian, trainer and instructor in dressage (obedience and precision training for both horse and rider) at Pleasant Prospect Farm in Glenelg.

She has a dressage-trained horse of her own, a 10-year-old Holterstein gelding named Cookie Monster.

"All these other things I do are my work," she says. "Dressage is what I do for Karen. It's my passion." You may have recently spotted it buzzing around Baltimore, done a double take and wondered, "What is that thing?"

Congratulations. You've just made a "Herr Gerty" sighting. Herr Gerty is a beaded purple, red, orange and yellow moped that belongs to Shirle Hale. The 28-year-old musician wanted to distinguish her new moped from that of the madding crowd.

She succeeded.

The moped looks like a rolling, motorized work of funky art. And it is eye-catching: Ms. Hale has stopped traffic when people ask her about the moped.

The most-asked questions?

"Did I do it myself and am I a Deadhead," she says.

Answers: Friends lent a hand with painting the moped, and she is not a fan of the Grateful Dead, says Ms. Hale, who is leader of the "Women of Destruction," an alternative music band. The band consists of four women and "a guy in drag," she says.

Of course, playing in the group gives Ms. Hale -- a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston -- an opportunity to flash around her lovingly beaded and painted bass guitar.

Ms. Hale's passion for beading has been paying off in other ways: She has the perfect day job for a guitar-playing, moped-riding bead-lover. She sells beads and crafts at the Beadazzled store on Charles Street.

When she feels strung out from her busy life and projects, Ms. Hale turns to, well, beading.

RF "I've always been into crafts," she says. "It's sort of my therapy."


Sandra Crockett

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