All about the horses

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2015
Kristine Millard

Cynthia Hodak
“The horses are the biggest teachers we have,” says Cynthia Hodak, right, with daughter Nicole Banks.
Cynthia Hodak, owner of Al Dube Quarter Horses in Biddeford, is emphatic. It all comes down to the horses.

For Hodak and her daughter, Nicole Banks, 29, competing on the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) circuit has been both a goal and a reality. And come spring, Hodak plans to pick up where she left off last summer, joining the circuit again after a hiatus both tragic and life-changing.

Hodak and her longtime partner, Al Dube, were for years fixtures on both the NRHA and American Quarter Horse Association scene. Banks has also been a prize-winning competitor. Dube, who built the Biddeford farm that Hodak and Banks now run, was a horseman through and through, Hodak says. When he died unexpectedly in 2011, Hodak and her daughter were faced with a decision. They could dig in and continue building on Dube’s dream, or they could walk away. They chose the horses.

"The horses healed Nicole and me," Hodak says. "The horses are the biggest teachers we have."

Al Dube Quarter Horses is a 14-acre farm on South Street in Biddeford. It boasts both indoor and outdoor riding rings, stable space for more than 30 horses, and capacity to store 4,000 bales of hay. Hodak and Banks run it as the base of operations for a grass-fed beef business, hay sales, and, of course, all matters related to horses: boarding, training, lessons.

Now, Hodak and Banks, and Banks’s husband, Aaron, are fashioning a new transition. They will sell the Biddeford property and move Al Dube Quarter Horses to property in Arundel. They will build new facilities on Hodak’s property there, and, on their land right next door, the Bankses will take over the grass-fed beef business. The trio will continue to cut and sell hay on both their own and leased property. Most of all, Hodak says, the move will enable them to focus even more on horses, and she will resume competing.

"I’m going back on the circuit," Hodak says. "Come hell or high water."