I’m very proud of the young lady in the picture accompanying my editorial. This is my daughter Kelsie, and what a fine little horsewoman she has become over the years. This year my editorials have mentioned Kelsie’s journey with horses beginning with therapeutic riding and then advancing to riding her own horse without any side-walkers in the arena. When Kelsie lost her horse, Mr. Slick, to cancer, she also lost her desire to ride. It has been three years now and Joe and I miss Kelsie joining us in the arena and on the trail. We’ve gone through ups and downs to find Kelsie the right horse, one she can love and trust like Mr. Slick, but luck has not been on our side. I would sometimes think, it’s just not meant to be.
But, a wonderful thing happened at the Michigan Stallion Expo in March. The Corral had a booth for the three day show and Joe was the primary arena announcer. This is a very popular show, hosted by the Michigan Horse Counsel. Attending this show for several years now, Joe, Michelle and I have made many new friends. One of them stands out, not just because of his horsemanship skills, but because of the great big wings and halo he wears. Carlos Valadez, from AC Valadez Horsemanship in Michigan, is a trainer, presenter and ambassador, for the Paso Fino breed. He has a calm and reassuring way with his horses, which is obvious as you see him effortlessly guide them across the arena. When talking to Carlos, this same calmness and reassurance translates to people. I know this first hand, because Carlos is the one who convinced Kelsie to get back on a horse, and convinced her mom that putting her on a Paso Fino stallion in front of a large crowd of people would be OK. And you know what…Carlos was right. The picture of Kelsie and Carlos tells it all; it was a success!
On Saturday, day two of this three day show, Carlos approached Joe to see if Kelsie wanted to ride a magnificent sorrel stallion by the name of Campechanco, who is owned by a very special lady, Rosie Bickert. Although we’ve never forced Kelsie to get on a horse, Joe thought this is one time that he would do his best to convince her to have some fun, “whether she liked it or not”! So after the show shut down for the night, Carlos, his wife Amanda, along with Rosie and several other folks, entered the arena to see if Kelsie and Campechanco would make a connection. Mom was very nervous at this point, as Kelsie, with helmet properly fitted, climbed aboard. I guess riding a horse and riding a bike have something in common; you don’t forget what you’ve learned. Kelsie’s posture and balance in the saddle were perfect. The two took their first steps around the arena with Carlos leading on another stallion and Joe and me side-walking. After 5 minutes, we stood back, not too far, and just watched. Kelsie was back on a horse and actually enjoying herself! We even saw a few smiles. At one point Carlos asked Kelsie if she was done or wanted to keep riding. “Keep riding” was her response. Joe’s and my response…a couple tears each. A turning point for Kelsie and the realization for us that we need to just keep looking for that perfect horse. He’s out there, maybe another Rocky like Slick, a Paso Fino like Campechanco, a Haflinger, Icelandic, or maybe even a little rescue. But Carlos, Kelsie and Campechanco have shown us; we cannot give up on our search.
Hope to see you at the Hoosier Horse Fair & Expo or the Ohio Equine Affaire in April. Until next month…Don’t get stuck in the mud, (like Joe does every blasted spring with the farm gator!)