Cheap to Champion
At Horses Without Homes, we love finding stories about horses that may have had humble
beginnings but became successful. We already mentioned Snowman, ridden by Harry DeLeyer,
and of course many people have read Laura Hillebrand’s great book about Sea Biscuit. Here are
a few other horses that became very successful even though they were not initially considered to
Nirvana – ridden by Jill Henneberg. This wonder horse helped the U.S. Olympic Eventing Team to
achieve a Silver medal at the 1996 Olympics. Nirvana came off the track and was purchased by
then 14year old Jill for only $600. Within a few short years the pair was competing at the highest
levels of eventing.
Loro Piana Rhythmical – Ridden by Nona Garson. This horse started out as a cavalry mount for
the Russian Army, but after that nation fractured they wanted material goods. Rhythmical could
have easily been sent to slaughter for cash. Instead, the horse was sold for 150 used washing
machines and was being ridden in Finland when Nona Garson and the Kamine Family purchased
him. Together Nona and Rhythmical reached the highest level of show jumping, wowing
spectators with their fast, groundcovering courses and brilliant athleticism.
Miss White Trash – This mare was rejected for registration by both the American Quarter Horse
Association and American Paint Horse Association because of her coloring – too much white for
the AQHA and too little white for the APHA. Luckily, her owner persevered and after great
showings at National Cutting Horse competitions she gained the right to compete with the
National Reining Horse Association; and was eventually inducted to their hall of fame. She also
was the dam of one of the most gifted reining horses – Trashadeous. Miss White Trash could
have easily headed to the slaughter pipeline but for her determined and loyal owner.
And there are many others – maybe not so famous, but all equally inspiring for having overcome
the odds and risk of being sent to slaughter. Look around you at the local horse shows. Chances
are that if you ask around someone will tell you how their horse was saved from auction, or was
adopted from a rescue, or was saved from a neglectful owner.
Horses Without Homes wants more of these horses to be given their new chance. Even if you
don’t aspire to ride at the Grand Prix level or enter a national reining competition, an adoption
horse may be just the ticket you need to enjoy horse camping, local showing, cattle penning, or
just breathing in the magic of horse hair.
(Janey H. is the resource editor at Horses Without Homes Magazine)