It's been almost three years since we picked up this little feller from way over in the far western part of the state. We bought him without ever meeting him. We saw pictures and had some low-quality video from Sara's dad. He graciously took time to go see him for us while visiting Erin, Sara's younger sister who lives in Minneapolis. I remember all of the time Sara spent looking for a new show prospect. The hours surfing the net, the close scrutinizing of photos and videos. How Sara kept coming back to this little guy. I remember how we took the videos and pictures to our friend Dale, a local trainer, to ask his opinion on which horse he felt would be a good prospect. And this little yellow horse kept surfacing near the top of the list.
We hooked up the steel dinosaur and headed west to pick up that little horse. He was everything we expected. Calm, mild mannered, nice conformation. Granted, he was at that awkward and lanky late yearling stage, but you could tell he was going to come together well. We tossed an old blanket on him and he loaded right up. Stood like a champ for the four hour ride home. Unloaded in the dark like he'd done it many times, but this was only his second trailer ride in his life. Settled into his stall amongst all the seasoned Paints and Quarter Horses like he knew it was his new home, and he approved.
Watching him grow into those knobby knees and those long legs was fun. He took everything in stride and never got wound up about anything Sara threw at him. He did anything asked of him, and did it willingly. That first summer was spent showing him at the local level in classes like halter, showmanship, in-hand trail & lunge line. It was then that he learned he liked those classes - he could sleep during the lineup. He loves to sleep. It's one of his favorite things. When not showing, the rest of his time was spent learning new things in the arena and going on longs walks. Walks down the road and walks in the field, getting him accustomed to cars and trucks and tractors and semi's.
Late in his second year Sara started him under saddle. Again, he took it in stride like he knew this was his job. His training proceeded slowly with lots of walking and bending and softening. He picked it all up like a champ, and continued to learn into his third year. That next summer was spent at the local open shows in an array of walk/trot classes in addition to the showmanship and halter classes. He did well, holding his own against much more experienced horses. He became one of the horses to beat in the showmanship classes. His placings thru the year qualified him to go to the Wisconsin State Horse Council's Challenge of Champions which was held in late September. They walked away earning 5th in Western Pleasure. Not bad for his first year of riding.
That winter they focused on getting his lope and canter down. He learned and worked hard and tried harder and got it down just right. They had to get it right, because his fourth year was going to be a big one. They went on to show at the breed shows this past summer on the Wisconsin Paint Horse Club circuit, and they ended the show season with a winning record.
I'm a very proud husband when I can say that Sara is the Wisconsin Paint Horse Club's Amateur Rookie of the Year.
The also earned the title of the Reserve Champion Novice Amateur All-Around, just being out of first place by two points.
But one of Sara's proudest title is that of Grand Champion Novice Amateur Showmanship.
In addition, she was awarded with the following titles from the WPHC:
Reserve Champion Amateur Geldings at Halter
Reserve Champion Novice Amateur Western Pleasure
Reserve Champion Novice Amateur Hunter Under Saddle
Reserve Champion Novice Amateur Huntseat Equitation
Reserve Champion Novice Amateur Western Horsemanship
All of this from that knobby-kneed little blue eyed yellow horse. And from all of their hard work and dedication. And for never giving up.
I am so proud of the two of them.