By Abbie Luther
Everyone loves a feel good story, and this is definitely one of them.
The barn drew straws on who would call my mother and break the news. 11 months later we had a solid dirt brown baby. Not a single spot in sight, he would be grade and have no breed papers. As a yearling, he was winning halter, showmanship, and in hand trail classes at our local 4-H level shows. I broke him out as a 2-year-old when I was only 15, and he’s been my show partner ever since.
A year-and-a-half ago I posted on Facebook, as I was soon aging out of 4-H, and needed guidance as I wanted to show bigger and more competitively. Julie Campbell Harnish sent me a Facebook message to come take a lesson. And I’m thankful she took the chance on a team others would have deemed as pointless.
Last year I registered Echo as a solid undocumented Pinto as ECHO OUT THE BLUE and we showed throughout the summer at MSPB & O and finished the year as High Point Solid Horse.
Over the winter I wasn’t planning on attending the Pinto World Show, but Tanya Jorgensen Moore spent lots more hours than either of us would care to admit convincing me to just do the dang thing. I impulsively booked an Air BNB for 10 days in Tulsa Oklahoma, because if not now, then when?
The weeks leading up to the world show were everything but easy. Echo spent a night at MSU vet clinic over an eye injury. After a week of stall rest and recovery he then came up lame the first time in his 8 years. Many vet and farrier visits and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. 5 days before he was to get on a trailer and haul 14 hours to Tulsa, and abscess finally came through. Three generous women spent lots of time soaking and packing until I arrived in Tulsa. And thanks to a great vet and great farriers, we were able to put a metal plate between his shoe to protect the sole of his hoof and get him sound to show. Needless to say, not being able to ride or practice a single pattern for 3 weeks and taking our first ride in a month in the Ford Truck arena was not how I planned for things to go. I remember Brent telling me to just not give up hope yet and there was still time. I told him that horse was going to Tulsa.
4X World champion in Showmanship, Equitation, Horsemanship, and Disciplined Rail. Two of those titles being won unanimously. 5X top 5, 5X top 10. We placed in every single class we entered, and we came out as the High Point Champion for our division (Amateur Walk Trot Solid Horse) bringing home a saddle.
This horse really gave me the rides of a lifetime. And what you saw was what he is. That’s on 15 rides total since January. That’s practicing a pattern just a few hours before a class and making do with what we had to work with.
I am extremely thankful for those that stood in my corner: Brent Harnish and Julie for putting so much of their time and energy into getting us here, the HPH crew for rooting me on, my boyfriend, Matthew Keller, for standing at the exit gate after every class, encouraging me to chase my dreams, my family back at home watching the live feed, and especially my mom, Holly Mauthe, for devoting everything she had to getting me here. We never thought we would get this far, let alone come home a World Champion.
I think this blue horse taught many trainers and other riders a life lesson: it doesn’t matter where you came from, or what’s on a piece of paper, you work hard and make do with what you have. And it was truly special to hear them, people I don’t even know, rooting us on every time our back number was called.
I’m not sure what we will do from here, I wasn’t expecting this horse to check everything off my bucket list in our first world show. But he will get some well-deserved pasture time, and one day I hope to find one just like him, but with some qualifying white to show the color classes.