A to Z horses - Behold Blackjack & Bentley

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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Blackjack photos
From Kim Weber - Used by permission.
Bentley Before-and-After
From McKenna Calabrese – Used by permission.
Bentley at 2011 Lake County
Mounted Posse Horse Show
Linda Ann Nickerson - Nickers and Ink
2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge logo
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  1. Thanks for sharing these heart-warming horsey stories! What a fun theme for the A to Z Challenege! ~Angela,

  2. Ooooh, love some ponies! I have 4 at home. I'll be back through APril.

  3. That poor thin horse. Was that a result of racing or poor care?

  4. I love horse stories. Thanks for sharing them!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  5. lovely stories. I used to raise AQHA horses in another life not so long ago. Also, just found a great home for my one mustang, Miss Cisco, who looks like she could be related to Blackjack.

    Live in the Caribbean now. Lots of horses here but none of them mine.

  6. I love horses and I love the names of these two. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love horses. We had some Arabians in Minnesota for a number of years. I love the smell and the sounds and could just sit in a barn forever. It's almost as good as the ocean!



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