BY ALISON FOSTER GREEN
Penni Himes and her three daughters – Francie, Gracie, and Issie – laughingly describe the past six years on the horse show circuit as a “four-ring circus.” That’s what happens when three girls, and occasionally their mother, all compete at the same time. This family’s hectic, yet wonderful, journey all began when Gracie started begging her parents for a horse when she was just 10 years old. In that moment, Penni had a premonition of the way her life would change by introducing her three young daughters to the world she had competed in as a youth.
“I showed Appaloosas when I was a kid,” Penni says. “I competed all the way through my youth years and into the amateur division. Showing horses was part of my background, but it was something I hadn’t done in a long time. However, my parents still owned a pony. Every time we would go to visit, two of my daughters would run to the pool, and Gracie, my middle daughter, who was about seven at the time, would be missing. It wouldn’t be long before we would find her out in the field trying to rustle up the pony! That’s how it started. Pretty soon she was just begging for a horse of her own.”
When Penni and her husband began seriously considering buying Gracie a horse, they knew they were stepping into quicksand. “I remember so clearly talking to my mom about it. I said to her, ‘Mom, I remember how all-consuming showing horses was. It was hard on you, and you just had one daughter doing it. I can’t imagine doing it with all three!’ She just looked me in the eye and said I should just go for it. So, I did! Well, now look where I am. I’m doing all the driving, traveling, and running my own three-ring circus. I was right. It came full circle, and honestly, it’s just awesome.”
Penni took the plunge and bought young Gracie her first horse that she showed in 4-H competition and at the fair. “She loved it,” Penni says. “We knew immediately that she was hooked, and we made the decision to move from where we were living in the city to somewhere we could house and care for the horse on our own property.”Click here to read the complete article