The Mane Point features two special horses today, both offering hard-luck stories with happy endings.
From BLM to prison break before better times
Blackjack is a 29-year-old Mustang mare, descended from the original Kiger herd and rounded up almost 25 years ago on Oregon’s Riddle Mountain. She was sent to a Wyoming prison to be broken, where she put several prisoners in the hospital, perhaps before she turned three.
“Needless to say, she broke the prisoners,” explained her owner, South Dakota police dog training expert Jonni Joyce. “She was not broke when I got her in 1986. She was tough when she was young.”
Over the years, Joyce patiently worked with the mare. Eventually, she even put 4-H kids in the saddle on Blackjack.
“She never hurt me,” Joyce said. “I think she has mellowed tremendously in her old age.”
In July 2011, Blackjack was retired to live on the peaceful farm of Rob and Kim Weber, of Weber’s Retired Horses in Princeton, Kentucky.
“[Blackjack] talks more than any other horse I have ever been around,” observed Kim, who has spent decades training horses and teaching equestrians. She’s … a lovely little mare.”
From the track to the show ring
Young equestrian McKenna Calabrese loves to draw and paint horses, and her favorite subject is an off-the-track-Thoroughbred named Better Than a Bentley. Calabrese leases the five-year-old retired gelding from Kathryn Kowalczyk.
Bentley retired from racing in February 2011, and he has gone from jumpy to jumping.
Arriving at a Union Grove, Wisconsin, boarding stable, the seal bay horse was extremely thin, but Calabrese and Kowalczyk have nurtured him and nudged him into the show arena. Just a few months after Bentley left the track, Calabrese was proudly displaying his horse show ribbons.
“We went to a few open shows over the summer,” Calabrese recounted. “We did very well, placing in a few jumping classes and even a Western Pleasure class.”
With each new month, Bentley continues to approach a healthy weight and to regain a lush coat, even as his hunter training continues.
“I can’t wait to see how he does in the 2012 show season!” Calabrese exclaimed.
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From Kim Weber - Used by permission.
From McKenna Calabrese – Used by permission.
Bentley at 2011 Lake County
Mounted Posse Horse Show
Linda Ann Nickerson - Nickers and Ink
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