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Happy Trails

I like to tell people that Peruvians are the original American trail horse. Before quarter horse folks jump down my throat, note I did not say North American trail horse. Plus, our breed predates the fabulous quarter horse by a few centuries, so I think it’s a fair title.

And one of our very own Colorado Peruvians is competing for the top spot on America’s Favorite Trail Horse, a show on HRTV. Bobbi Taylor and HHF Nevado of Cataloochee Ranch in Guffey, Colo., were picked from thousands of competitors to vie for the grand prize:  $25,000.

And there’s a second palomino Peruvian pair in the finals, Me Llamo Altanero and Jody Childs of Vista, Calif.

Bobbi’s and Nevado’s episode is Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. MT on HRTV (Dish Network 404). She’s hosting a viewing party at the 8 Mile Bar and Grill in Cañon City, Colo.; call Bobbi, 719-837-3011, or email votenevado@aol.com to RSVP. You can vote one time per email address for 48 hours following the episode on ACTHA’s TV website,  www.actha.tv. Nevado is No. 256 from episode No. 3.

No matter who walks away with the check, both these teams helped us secure a fabulous bonus prize:  exposure for our breed. Everyone watching will see these ladies and their geldings maneuver all kinds of obstacles with ease. Hats off and good luck to both of these competitors.

Here's a shot of Bobbi and Nevado when they were competing for the final cut of America's Favorite Trail Horse.

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Well, by the time I hit “publish,” this won’t be the latest. I signed up for email updates from my vet, I’m wearing cyber tracks into Google and haunting the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s site. Friends send me updates — some legit, some questionable. So I’m doing what I can to stay informed and to share what I know.

And I’m doing what I can to keep my horse safe. Even before my barn manager here in Colorado Springs decided to quarantine the animals, I decided to leave Wonder Pony here rather than trailer him down to La Estancia Alegre for this weekend’s clinic. (Thanks so much to Barbara Windom for offering up her horses to those of us who can’t bring our own.) I’m canceling next week’s vet appointment — teeth floating and Coggins can wait at this point.

But I’m also not freaking out. Six infected horses — two euthanized —  in Colorado is concerning, for sure. But I’m grateful that the flow of info is so quick, so thorough and so constant. I’m optimistic that this has been caught early, and the measures horse owners and professionals are taking will minimize the disease’s impact.

Here’s hopin’.

Just want to say thanks to everyone who participated in and supported the Southwest Peruvian Horse Show. I enjoyed fantastic horses, exceptional people and nonstop laughs for the entire weekend. It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones down in Glen Rose, Texas. Check out some of the great photos here.

I’ve decided I definitely want to be a ring steward when I grow up. My first time down there on the arena floor was a phenomenal chance to learn more about our breed and see the show from the judge’s perspective.

It was also helpful to see the inner-workings of a well-established, well-run show. Hats off to the entire show committee, volunteers and Southwest Peruvian Horse Club board for all their hard work. And special thanks to Judge Nazario Villafuerte to putting up with and answering my nonstop questions. I know I talk too much.

Show Time

I’m about to have the best Mother’s Day ever.

Tomorrow I’m heading down to Texas to be a part of the Southwest Peruvian Horse Show. Wonder Pony will not be joining me, sadly. But I’ll still get three days to enjoy great horses and friends as my kids get quality time with my mom. It’s the perfect Mother’s Day weekend for us both, actually.

I’ve been looking forward to this for almost a year. I was invited to be ring steward (really I prefer the title “ring leader”) by a friend who’d made the long drive to Denver for last year’s Denver Queen City Horse Show — a fantastic combo show with the Colorado American Saddlebred Horse Association.

Texas shows are always a blast. I have deep roots in the Lone Star State. It’s where I grew up, and it’s where I first fell in love with our breed. So many wonderful people down there have offered me help, advice and encouragement — I’m really happy I can contribute to their efforts to showcase and show off their horses.

When we cross state and club lines, we’re supporting our breed and our friends. I hope my Texas pals will haul north to take part in our show July 21-23. Or out to Vegas for the Gold Rush Classic June 24-26. The full NAPHA show schedule can keep us busy from February to October.

You don’t have to cringe as your child gets patted down by the TSA because he insists on wearing overalls that trip the sensors to make it to distant shows. (I won’t, either. Those overalls magically disappeared after the last pat-down.) Do what’s easy, fun and practical for you. Cheer for friends at your closest show. Volunteer to hand out ribbons or work the gate. Sponsor a class. Enter your 50 finest animals in every show on the calendar.

Or get out on the trails and answer strangers’ questions about what’s wrong with your horse’s legs. Mount up for a parade. Take your horse to a local 4H class. Perform in equine festivals and other events.

It’s up to us to preserve and promote our historic breed. It’s an animal well-worth sharing.

What can you do?

Great Expo-sure

It seems most of us who own and enjoy Peruvians have some kind of interesting story on how we discovered the breed.

I ended up on one as I was recovering from a broken leg courtesy of a thoroughbred jumper. I’ve heard stories of people being so impressed with the beauty and presence  of Peruvians at parades that they shoved small children out of the way to get closer to the magnificent horse they’d never seen before. Some follow friends into the breed.

But I think very few people know about the breed as they consider that first horse or take that first riding lesson.

That’s why events like the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo (March 11-13) are so important for us when it comes to promoting our horses. This annual Denver event draws roughly 15,000 people to the National Western Complex for clinics, vendors, performances and more.

This year, we have a group of club members who’ll be riding in the Mane Event, the featured Friday and Saturday evening performances. The Peruvians will be part of a lineup that includes Guy McLean, Ruben Villasenor’s western dressage, National Extreme Trail Champion Mark Bolender, WEG gold-medal reiner Aaron Ralston and more.

I really believe most of our new riders and owners come to us from other breeds and disciplines. So I encourage everyone to stay active in their larger horse community and find opportunities like the Expo to share our breed with new audiences.

Looking Ahead

New year, new start.

Every January we step on the scale, make our lists of resolutions and look ahead.

As a club, CSPHC is looking forward to a lot. The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, The Denver Queen City Horse Show and the Colorado State Fair are circled on the calendar right now.

As much as I love shows, I’m putting a gold star next to the Expo; it’s the first on the list (March 11-13). This is a fantastic venue for promoting our breed. Tens of thousands of horse lovers from throughout the region will converge on the National Western Complex in Denver to ride with experts, hit the trade show floor and enjoy equine performances in the Mane Event.

I really believe we have to reach out to the larger horse community to help sustain our breed. As much as I love hanging out with other Peruvian aficionados, we need to make connections with other horse lovers. We have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn.

Last year’s Queen City show is proof of that. It was a beautifully run weekend, we had a great turnout and enjoyed sharing the facility with the Saddlebred folks. I’m looking forward to more of the same this year (July 21-23).

So from where we stand as a club, we have lots of opportunities to make the most of our horses and our equine connections.

From where you’re standing today, what do you see?

Versatility

If you’ve been in the Peruvian horse breed for a while, odds are you’ve heard these kinds of comments:

“Peruvians can do anything any other breed can do.”

“They’re really not that versatile. They’re here to gait. It’s what they do best.”

A recent discussion on our club Facebook page hit on this very topic. An article on Peruvians and reining appeared in my email inbox, so I posted it to our FB page. There are some excellent comments in there about what different people are doing with their horses and what those activities mean for and about the breed.

I’m not picking a side here, but I think it’s a good discussion to continue as we all work to promote our breed. I know we all want to share and show off our horses, but I think we also need to figure out whose attention we’re trying to catch. If we can define the market we’re trying capture, we can target those folks.

I guess that raises the question of who “we” is, though. Are “we” traditionalists preserving and promoting Peruvian culture? Are “we” fun-loving trail riders who just want to get out and enjoy nature? Are “we” parade/demo folks who love to put on a memorable presentation of this stunning horse? Are “we” competetive types who have something to prove to other breeds?

If “we” are all the above, I’d say that’s a pretty versatile group.

What do you think?