For the many years I've been in this horse business there have been stories and horror tales of the low side of the horse world. Some were statements from trainers, such as "oh she's a nice mare but so and so has one that is much better," so essentially go on home you're already beat! Or "so and so is always paying off judges so that is why they win all the time." You know the story. Its like a natural part of any industry and especially where there's competition. Yes, we know that these things do happen from time to time. I prefer for myself to promote words of confidence in this horse world. New and old owners and exhibitors have plenty of real backyard problems to worry about. Right now I'm worried my mare isn't getting sick since she's slightly off her feed. I choose to leave the drama at the door because if I get sucked into the bad I'd think more about giving up. I choose to realize that the downside comes with the territory and not to let it be the boogie man. You won't hear me in public talk about or raise drama and generalized worry or doubt about the horse industry. It is my choice and belief that it serves me and most people the best to be positive, optimistic, and realistic. There are avenues to have discussion and report real violations, simple speculation and gossip only creates an industry of distrust and will discourage folks to enter the business or continue.
I respect the right that people have to verbalize the negative, and that they may strongly disagree with my position, but negative peer amateur horsemen have really been the most draining part of having horses. Whether its attacks on HYPP horses and now PSSM, or negative speak about unfairness and politics, and I believe equally damaging is highly judgmental and mean spirited statements about each other, all and all negativity statements that discourages participation in the industry. I have spoken up to some individuals that I have observed being mean on Facebook, where it happens a bit. I delete those folks when I see continued bashing. I've opted out of the PSSM forums as I see it as highly slanted and biased. It appears more self-serving for those who are lucky enough to have ended up with non-PSSM horses.
Many forums ask, "what can we do to improve the halter industry?" I would argue it starts with each of us, for me it starts with me! Imagine for a moment, if we just all supported and encouraged each other, and all just showed up in the pen and had a good time, and realized someone has to lose...that is the name of competition. Be a cheerleader and go for it. I worry for those new faces who might consider buying their first halter horse, how do they feel when they hear this stuff? I can't believe it will encourage new entry to this industry. Please be thoughtful of how your messaging hurts us all.
Raising and showing horses is the most fun and stimulating thing in my life. It is for so many people, and could be for so many more. We've put hundreds of halter points on horses that we've raised, fit and shown ourselves on a very moderate budget. So in my experience of 30 years it is a completely open playing field where hard work, and investment works! Look around and put things into relative perspective. This world is full of bad, choose to focus on the great and possible!
What do you think?
After months of anxious emotion, patience and prayers Parker is actually prepared to leave to be fit for the Breeders Halter Futurity and then he will come back to show at the new Best in the West futurity. Yesterday morning I loaded him and took him on a drive around the block so he could get a feel for the trailer and know that eventually it stops and life is ok! He has a great disposition! I'm not sure how this happened-that we got two colts with the most easy-going personalities! He hopped right in the trailer when I lead him to it. Now to give this context, he has never been out of the barn on his own before this moment. He was weaned last Sunday, and yesterday not a full week later, after being in the stall all week eating as much feed as his little heart desired, I took him into the paddock on the halter and made sure I had a good handle on him. He was so mild. Then I lead him out into the isle-way of the barn. I walked to the trailer parked just outside, he followed me right up to the trailer, and I stepped up and in, and without even a thought he was inside with me. He was calm and he nibbled some hay. I petted him, turned him around walked him out, and you know how they will mis-judge the height, he bumbled out like a clumbsy kid. I turned him around and went to load him again. This time he wanted to sniff shavings and check it out a little-then within a minute or two of patience to let him explore, he was back inside and very quiet. We closed the doors and Mom and I drove off with him inside all by his little 3.5 month baby self! He rode well, I hopped up inside with him, put his halter back on, and out we went and with the same lack of grace he hit the driveway. What a cutie!
Parker is special to us for several reasons. One he is beautiful! He is just very balanced, smooth, correct, and he has the "breedy" thing I love to see in a horse, and especially a young show horse. From every angle when you watch him in the stall he is just super looking. He doesn't have awkward looks. It is hard for a small breeder to get good ones like this-we have shipped from a lot of really good horses, raised a lot of foals, and too often we didn't get a baby that looked like a halter horse or what we were wanting. Second is his super disposition as I described. Third, is we raised his momma, grandma, and great-grandma. So this means he is home grown and a product of what we have worked on for about 30 years. We put Superior Halter awards on all three of these mares in his mare line, and we fit and showed them ourselves. (Except his momma went to Mike McMillian for about thee months, and we had Bob Kail lead his great-grandma at the World, and the amazing Greg Whalen led his great aunt to win the then highly prestigious Cow Palace, along with a few other catch leads for us a big shows).
I earned my first AQHA point with his great-great maternal grand dam when I was in high school. My mom earned her first AQHA point, and world top 3 with his Great-Grandma. My daughter earned her first points on his grandma and attended her first World show at the youngest age she could compete. She won her first Congress top 3 with his momma. Just a little HX so you know why Parker is so special to us. I know your story with your horses likely brings you the same joy and pride. We all have our story and I hope you cherish it for what it means to you!
Christine Miller (Zoppi)
I love halter horses and have had a dream for as long as I can remember to have a World Champion horse that I raised from my own breeding program. I am a working person. I have had my ups and downs though life and have lived through some heart breaking moments with my horses and also times where I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I took a seven year break from the horses and in late fall of 2012 decided to get back into the game. I decided to begin this blog because I know Im not alone in this dream and journey. Im not a great writer, but I want to challenge myself to do something different, and be more open about the struggles, heartbreak, joy and utter heart pounding excitement that makes me want to successfully breed, show and sell horses, even though the bar is high and some would say only for those who have a lot of money.