Since the age of twelve, I have dreamed of raising and training my very own weanling Colt. I was a member of 4-H, I showed horses in my local County fair and have been raised with horses all my life. When I was sixteen, my county 4-H program offered an essay contest, in which 4-H members would describe how they would increase the value of breeding stock Paints. A Breeding Stock Paint is where the horse does not have enough white on its body to be considered a Paint Horse. In the paint horse world they are only considered good for breeding. The prize for the winner of the essay contest, was a donated weanling breeding stock paint colt. As soon as I found out about the essay contest, I entered. My Parents warned me that raising and training your own colt would be a lot of work and required dedication. In my essay I described how I feel that the APHA (American Paint Horse Association) should change their minimum white requirements and allow the breeding stock the right to be registered as equals to their colored siblings.
About a month after submitting my essay I received a phone call to let me know that I had won the contest. I could not believe it. They also told me that they received three other donated weanling colts and they were giving the other three contestants a weanling as well, but I would get first pick of them.
During the time of my contest entry, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. I spent most of my days at her house helping my mother take care of her. My grandma was always amazed at my passion for horses and was thrilled that I had won the contest. My grandma was afraid of horses. She always said that they were beautiful animals but too big for her. My grandma’s health was declining rapidly and my mom was staying with her all the time. It was getting close to the day that the donated colts where to be delivered. My mother received a phone call from the essay coordinator that there were four donated colts coming from Indiana and requested they be delivered to our house. My mother knew that she was not going to be able to stay home to receive the colts, so she told me to skip school that day. I got up early that morning to get everything ready for their arrival. Around noon the large semi trailer pulled down my driveway. When they opened the trailer door I noticed there was only one horse in the trailer. I questioned why only one horse. The owners of the other three horses backed out last minute and they were going to have to find three more weanlings since they already announced the other winners.
I knew as soon as they took the beautiful chestnut colt named Whiskey off the trailer that he was the one for me. I spent the rest of the day in the barn with Whiskey and went into the house to make my little sister dinner since both of my parents were with my grandma. As I was making macaroni and cheese, the phone rang. It was my cousin Randy. He told me that my grandma had just passed away. Tears came rolling down my face as I was trying to finish making my sister dinner. Of course as soon as my parents got home I went to the barn to cry to my horses. They are great listeners. I walked over to Whiskeys stall and at that moment I truly felt my grandma was part of Whiskey. That she knew that she could not leave without sending me something so special. Why did only one horse come on that trailer that day?
I knew that Whiskey was special and I was going to work hard to make him the best horse that I could. The 4-H rules stated that in order to show a weanling you had to do all the training yourself. I had never trained a horse before but knew I had the will and passion to do it. I worked with Whiskey every day. He was a stubborn horse but very smart. After 6 months of working with him, I took him to the state fair where I placed in the top five of my class. From there on out I showed Whiskey in everything I could. Mainly focusing on western pleasure. When Whiskey was five I realized that he just was not going to make it as a western pleasure horse. He has a nice walk and trot but his lope was too fast for western pleasure. Whiskey just seemed like he knew also, western pleasure was not for him. During this time, I was also working with Whiskey to make him a therapeutic riding horse. I have been volunteering in a therapeutic riding program since the age of nine. In order for a horse to qualify for this program they have to be extremely calm, be able to withstand children screaming, hitting, moving around a lot in the saddle, throwing balls at their head and even jumping off of them. The horse must also be able to stand still while the kids are playing games on them such as basketball, ring toss, and opening a mailbox. When I was training Whiskey to do this I would have him walk over tarps, play basket ball on him and throw stuff at him. He did well with everything and became an excellent therapeutic horse.
Now I told you that he was special, but to add one more thing to winning him, training him myself, and making him a wonderful therapeutic horse, eight years later I decided to make him a barrel racing horse. I have ran barrels in the past and loved it. It actually is how I met my husband Raymond, at a barrel race at my local fair. My entire family and a lot of my friends told me that I was crazy and that he would never be fast enough to be a good barrel racer because he was to calm and laid back. I stuck with my gut feeling and started training him in barrels. I signed up for NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) and told my husband that I was going to place in the top 5 of a division. He of course thought that would never happen. You have to have a good barrel horse to place that high. Well once again my will and passion proved them all wrong. I showed him in 2013 and ended up third in the fourth division of my district and qualified for the 2014 NBHA world show. My family and friends were amazed. Not many barrel horses can be calm enough for therapeutic riding during the week and place at a barrel show on the weekends.
Whiskey is a well known horse in the community now. He was in the Paint Horse Journal when I won him and in the local newspapers multiple times with his therapeutic riding kids. He has helped children develop social skills, motor skills, confidence and communication skills. One child even started walking after riding. Every year Whiskey and I dress up for the kids for Halloween. We have dressed as a doctor and a patient, a princess and a unicorn and even a Native American and her pony. The kids get to trick or treat off of Whiskey. One child in the program was unable to walk for his graduation from school do to unfulfilled requirements, so Whiskey surprised him by wearing a cap and had a gown and cap for the rider to wear as well. The joy that Whiskey brings to these kids is unreal.
It has always been my dream to have my own facility that I can hold my own therapeutic riding sessions. The facility that we currently use is a horse boarding facility, and we only get a limited amount of time to ride and there are no handicap accessible restrooms. I have 15 beautiful acres to build my barn on. I plan to build an 80×120 barn with an indoor arena. In the facility I plan to put a minimum of 10 stalls, a wash rack, tack room, handicap accessible restrooms and a room for children to rest and do arts and crafts. I want to make my facility special by placing the hand prints of each person that we have helped on a wall. I know that my grandma would be so proud of my accomplishments on Whiskey. She always told me to give back to those who need it. I hope that one day I can save enough funds to make a facility that is about giving back.