MY FIRST HORSE, BY KHIRA SNOOK May 2013
About 12 months ago I got my first horse. This little horse with tons of attitude and tons of sparks. I never thought that I would own a horse. I thought I would be one of those people that only ever dreamed about owning my own horse. How about I start at the beginning and share my joyous story.
It all started after I had babysat for these people with 2 kids that had me working enough over 6 months that I finally decided to just start looking and if things lined up I would get my horse, if it didn’t then I could always wait till I was older and had a better job and had gotten out on my own. So to craigslist I went on my search!
I started looking for a care lease, or a partial lease where I could at least ride once or twice a week. I called up my friend and was talking to her about all the medical bills, farrier, feed, hay, supplements, and over all prices of anything and everything I could think I might need to know. As we got half way through the conversation she finally asked me why we were playing 20 questions, and I mentioned I had saved up some money and was looking to possibly find a horse on a care lease. She came back at me with “Why don’t you take Salita?”
I was speechless I didn’t know what to say. so I said YES!!! We talked some more and soon I hung up with the knowledge that now I was 1 step closer to owning a horse. I had the horse but now it came down to where to board? Where to get hay? How was I supposed to care of a 1,000 pound animal that was supposed to become my partner? (as a little back knowledge I had been riding salita for 6 months – 1 year on and off as I had the time.)
This is the point in time where I met Mary Schoenheit. I called inquiring about her stalls she had open at her barn. We agreed to meet in a few days, and so 2 days later with grandma in tow we drove out to meet Mary, and to see the place I and my soon to be mare, would call our new home.
We walked around saw the huge pasture, met a few of the older horses, (Arty the resident old timer at 35! and Missy at 25!), we checked out the stall and finally agreed to talk it over and that night I called Mary and confirmed all I needed to ensure I was able to board there. 2 steps closer! I went to the vet picked up the shots and got help to give Salita her shots and wait the aloted time till the vaccines were confirmed effective, and so 3 steps down and only a few more to go!!!
So on March 2nd, 2012 I called up the Salita’s owner, Lara, and got the go ahead from Mary. This was it!!! I was almost to the final step of having my first horse! I drove towards where Salita was, and prepared to finally take on the responsibility of my first equine partner. I got there and was hanging out with my friend waiting and waiting and finally Lara was ready to load her up and haul her over to Mary’s for me. But first she hands me this purple gift bag. Inside was This purple halter and lead rope, my favorite color and the color I had decided to use for my new horse.
Out to the pasture we go to collect Salita and as if she knew I had no idea what I was doing she walked the opposite direction, as if to say “come back when you are ready.” I kept chanting to myself “I am READY!” I spent the next 30 minutes trying to catch this stubborn mare that knew I had no idea what I was doing. Finally with some help we caught her, and got her loaded up and away we went.
When we got there I was nervous. We unloaded her and we put her in the arena to meet all the new horses through the fence. and this was it!! She was finally mine!!!
At this time we didn’t know she was gaited. but that my dear friends and readers is a different story for a different time.
Over the last year not only have we learned that she is gaited, I’ve also shown her once. Salita and I have now been together for 1 whole year in March, and even though we don’t have a party planned to celebrate she will be getting her own bag of carrots and I, a nice big bag of cookies to celebrate. This year has been the best year of my life and without her I would have never met some of the most important people in my life.
Without Salita I would never have met Courtney, who is currently my riding coach, or Mary who helps me with anything horse, Or even Lynne or Brittney my 2 favorite riding buddies. Without Salita I would have never have met the Paso Fino, Moreno Del Norte that has taught me so much about gaiting and that we all have our quirks but they make us special.
I just wanted to write this article to remind everyone that our horses come to us in some of the most unique ways, but if it’s meant to be, it will be!
LYNNE MC KINNEY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012
As always, I am anxious to reach my destination. I have a hard time keeping to the speed limit as my van gets closer, excited to have a few precious hours together with the man in my life. Finally I arrive and eagerly present a gift to my love, which just happens to be a big bay Paso Fino. Lucero lowers his head to graciously accept my presents, a large carrot and a bonus face scratch .
We’ve had four years together, not counting the time I was laid up. Actually, he is not even my horse. I lease him from Mary Schoenheit. It’s the closest I will ever come to having a horse and I am forever grateful to Mary for the opportunity.
I was horse crazy from the moment I knew what a horse was. Virtually all my childhood fantasies involved a horse, although the breed and color were subject to change. Alas, in the 50’s and 60’s, disabled children were strongly discouraged from riding. Equine therapy was unheard of. Besides, Mother was terrified of horses, among other things. I was relegated to playing with toy horses, reading horse books, and pretend riding anything I could straddle and put “reins” around. I made up elaborate horse stories with which I amused adults and entertained myself.
After I was grown and already a parent, I made a friend with a horse that my daughter and I could ride occasionally. We were in horse heaven! We couldn’t get enough so part of my meager wages went to riding lessons. Later career choices, parenting and other issues got in the way of riding. I’m in my 60’s now and figure that it’s now or never in terms of finally feeding my lifelong horse craving.
Once I returned to Oregon, I had the opportunity to ride a sweet little Icelandic. He was 13 hands and built like a little draft horse. He carried me easily and I fell in love with his smooth effortless gait. My legs aren’t strong enough to post and needless to say, it was a
pleasure to glide down the trail without bouncing up and down.
I was cruising through the farm and garden section of Craig’s List and happened to see Mary’s notice advertising Paso Finos for lease. The ad said something about building a relationship with a horse. I couldn’t get the ad out of my mind and the next thing I knew I was pulling up at Mary’s barn. Mary and her daughter Jerri were welcoming. Because of my early experience, I am always worried that my disability will influence others opinions about my abilities. I hoped that my worn paddock boots would indicate that I had some experience, at least. I’d been taking lessons again, and had never stopped entertaining myself by reading about horses. I knew the basics and was pretty aware of my limitations. I knew that I was more comfortable with gaited horses. I also knew that I was on the cusp of turning 60, and it was now or never to cross off the number one item on my bucket list.
I knew right away that Lucero was the horse for me. From the first 5 minutes, riding him on the lounge line, feeling that smooth gait, I was in love. Riding several times a week with Jerri’s expert instruction and Mary’s help seemed like a dream come true.
Lucero however didn’t share my feelings. He’d had other riders and, while he didn’t do anything dangerous, he certainly had plenty of ways to frustrate a novice rider. He didn’t bother to acknowledge my existence, except to move away from my eager hand, or come to the fence for treats as did the other Paso’s. He threw his head up to make bridling him difficult, and once finally in the arena, paced far more than he gaited. Sometimes he just stopped moving for a minute or would suddenly refuse to use one corner of the arena. When I annoyed him too much, he would repeatedly flap his lips in displeasure. Most humiliating of all, he was a different horse when Mary rode him and gaited like a proper Paso Fino.
I didn’t care; I had a horse! My childhood dream had come true and I was elated, obsessed and head over heels in love. Mary, bless her, was patient with my questions and willing to tighten the cinch (I have a tool for that now), and hold the big guy while I struggled aboard. Sometimes it takes me several tries and it’s never graceful. The fact that Lucero is a big horse doesn’t make mounting any easier. He’s a little over 15 hands, a veritable giant of a Paso Fino.
I worked at my horsemanship and still do, taking lessons regularly, going to clinics, and working with a gaited horse trainer when I can. I even finagled a lesson with the great John Lyons, but that’s another story. When the weather was bad Lucero and I had groundwork sessions… I even tried a little clicker training, just for fun. I fell asleep over horsemanship manuals and trolled for videos on You tube. I worked as hard on conditioning my body as I did on my horsemanship. Disability aside, it is not easy to get serious about a new sport at 59. My arthritic joints and abused muscles hollered at me after every ride in the early da
At this point we have a pretty good partnership. When grooming I use Lucero’s body for balance. I pick out his feet from my wheelchair. I can walk with him on my feet or in my chair. He was a little pushy when I was on my feet in the beginning, but now only needs occasional reminders to slow down. If I stumble and lose my balance I grab for Lucero’s neck, knowing he will let me brace against him. He’s steady at my three step mounting block. I hold onto him as I climb the steps then balance on his neck as I throw my weak right leg over. He stands like a rock when I dismount too. I greatly appreciate the big bay’s skill and willingness to accommodate my disability.
In my mind, he is the perfect country pleasure horse with a sensitive mind. At the same time he has plenty of Brio for my taste and moves easily (when I ask properly) into a smooth as silk corto . The Paso Fino gait enables me to ride comfortably for long periods and helps me to maintain a balanced seat. The Big guy’s long legs give him the capacity for an exciting ground covering largo. Lucero has taken me on trails, in the show ring, and to clinics. I’ve explored places that would be inaccessible in my wheelchair. Both Lucero and I have been scared a few times. I have learned to trust that he knows our limitations since there are times he refuses to go beyond them. The fact that I have the opportunity to be with such a magnificent creature is still exhilarating. This is my second childhood and I have the wisdom to savor each moment.
When you have a Paso Fino in your life, life is good.
SPOTLIGHT ON MEMBERSHIP FROM SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 NEWSLETTER
Dean, Robin and Patrick Mudd are the whole package. A loving family, generous friends, hard workers and they are funny, funny, funny!
Robin has given us a small peek into their world in the following paragraphs but there is so much more to the Mudds. First there is Dean, a quiet man with an ever present smile on his face. You think he doesn’t have much to say until you get to know him and realize the smile on his face is caused by all the funny comments, unuttered, running around in his head. To see Dean, a tall man, ride a 14 hand Paso Fino at a Largo at the Oregon State Fair, moving so fast you could feel the wind as he passed. His legs almost touching the ground as he spun around the “track” leaving everyone else in the dust! That was a sight!! Robin, who can’t wait for the fair, not because of the competition, the horses, the excitement, no…..the food. She loves greasy fair food and doesn’t care who knows it! Robin is a big part of why the NWPFHA runs so smoothly. She has been our Treasurer for the last two years, getting us on track financially and helping tremendously with anything else that needs to be done. We can always count on Robin to be there with a helping hand and a funny comment, usually under her breath! Patrick has grown into a young man right before our eyes. His horse riding abilities shine for all to see. He is a great rider, showman and ambassador for the breed, showing the potential our youth have to offer as the next generation in the Paso Fino world. Patrick always offers congratulations to his competitors in the show ring when he wins, that’s easy, but when he doesn’t win, he is the first to congratulate the winner and to have kind words of encouragement to all. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Dean makes KILLER margaritas and pizza on the grill. Party Party!!
I grew up in a small town in Iowa and always dreamed of owning my own horse ranch. I rode neighbors’ and friends’ horses as often as I could, and sat on the back porch to watch the horses in the surrounding pastures. Those were the days of jumping on bareback, riding double, and flying through the fields, fearless in our youth! Then there was Taffy, a very fat, very ill-mannered Shetland pony. Two kids would hold her head so another of us could jump on without getting a resounding bite on our backside! Then she would head to the nearest fence line and make it her mission to rub us off! In all fairness, we probably deserved it. As often as I ended up on the ground in those days, my love of horses never ended.
Dean and I spent several years in Alaska, and then a 4 year sentence (ha) in Henderson, Nevada. Finally, in 2005 we moved our family to Mead, Washington, and the dream of owning and raising horses began to cement in our minds. Dean began researching and soon discovered this wonderful breed called the Paso Fino. The what? I’d never heard of this breed! He was even more excited than me about this journey we were about to take and spent hours on the computer doing research and showing me pictures and articles about these beautiful horses! And so it began. We built our ranch on a 26- acre field, found our first two geldings at Westwind Ranch, and now have 10 horses including brood mares and babies.
I jokingly call Dean my city boy since he grew up in southern California. Of course, he has surpassed me in everyway when it comes to riding and working with these horses! Our son, Patrick, is an incredible rider as well. I think that kid was born to sit on a horse! These beautiful animals are more than just a business. They bring a sense of peace and purpose to our lives. Last summer I sat in the grass just a few feet from where our mare, Amazonia, was giving birth to her first filly. You just can’t get much better than that.