“I was always one of those crazy horse girls,” Sharon Mueller explained. Raised by a single mom, Mueller grew up in a modest house with a small yard. Even so, her mother told her if she saved up enough money, she could buy a horse. It took Mueller a year-and-a-half of lemonade stands, babysitting, and house cleaning to come up with $150. At age 13, she was able to buy an 18-year-old Palomino, whom she named Sun Dancer. “He became the first love of my life,” Mueller reminisced.

Her dedication and success with her headstrong mustang caught the eye of a nearby Arabian farm. Instructors frequently came to the farm to give lessons, and Mueller was invited to join them. A manager on the farm also taught her the sport of carriage driving horses. “I learned a huge amount from these people,” she explained.

Juggling work responsibilities with training horses, carriage driving, and breeding her own Arabian horses, Mueller’s career path ultimately led her to adult education. In addition to teaching Equine Management at Blue Ridge  Community College, she also helped inmates at the Virginia State Correctional Center prepare for their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) exams. “I found I was extremely good at it,” she said. By the time she retired two decades later, Mueller had helped over 500 inmates earn their GEDs.

Mueller’s relationship with the college began when her veterinarian referred two of her foals, both critically ill, to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Impressed and appreciative of the care they received, Mueller decided to make supporting the hospital part of her legacy. She set up a bequest supporting the Equine Compassionate Care program and the Veterinary Clinical Research Fund. “You can’t take it with you, so if you don’t have kids to give it to, you’ve got to find another place.”

Mueller is the author of three books: 22 Years Behind Bars, Horse Stories from Pharoh’s Way, and Poems from Pharoh’s Way-II. She enjoys spending time with her horses on her farm Pharoh’s Way, named after her foundation Arabian stallion, DA Pharohtu, and also dedicates herself to caring for and re-homing feral cats.