“I’ve got some amazing kids and amazing horses,” says Kim Reid, owner and head trainer of Pulaski’s Shadow Ranch. With more than one award-winning horse in her stable, Reid, though down to earth, is justifiably proud.
She appears from the barn in jeans and boots, loyally followed by her German shepherd Dee and Cela, a tiny Maltese, and is greeted warmly by people who are at the ranch to ride.
“There’s something here just all the time,” says Marilyn Conatser, who rides dressage at Shadow Ranch. “Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. Just fantastic.” Hannah and Natalie, two young ladies who board horses there, nod vigorously in agreement. “Everybody’s friends out here.”
Child and adult riding lessons are part of the ranch’s purpose, but even those who can’t afford them sometimes like to bring their kids out to pet the horses in a safe environment. “We just ask that they call ahead and let us know they’re coming, because our schedule is so hectic,” says Reid.
Reid just got back from Oklahoma, where one of her pinto mares, Summer, won several awards in the Pinto World Championship. “She was top 10 in the Western dressage, and she was tenth and sixth in two of those classes,” says Reid. “She was also ninth in her Hunter-Pleasure class for the pleasure-type horses. And then the championship that she won was what they call Tobiano pleasure-type mares.”
Reid, who has been riding and showing horses for 25 years, explains further, “We were participating in hunt-style English riding and Western events as well as Halter, which she had won. It’s really hard to describe it. It’s where they judge horses on their way of going, manners, how fluid they move, different things like that.”
It’s all a little confusing for anyone not versed in the ways of the equestrian world, but one thing is certain: Reid and Summer were up against a lot of competition.
“It’s all over the United States,” she says of the championship. “There are people there from Texas, from Utah, from Michigan, Jersey, all over the United States, there were a lot of people from California there, just everywhere. And there were lots of other competitors from Virginia and from the East Coast, and the Carolina area and such. But we were the only ones from this area.”
The prize’s main component turns out to be prestige, not cash. “No,” laughs Reid, “I wish! No, you get the title, the ribbon and the bragging rights. It was pretty cool. We got the buckle and the champion jacket, which is on order.”
Reid’s niece, Jenna Barker, rode Splash, another Shadow Ranch horse. Splash took third, fifth and sixth in his classes.
In the barn, Summer stands connected to a lead outside of her stall. Her coat is mixed white and medium brown, like the sort of Pinto one might see in an old Western. She looks sleek and happy, and has a gentle, accommodating air about her.
“That one thing I think that helped her win her class, is that she’s got such intricate markings,” says Reid, pointing here and there, affectionately touching Summer. “She’s got a Mickey Mouse on her side, she’s got a maple leaf on her butt, and up here she’s got a string of pearls around her neck. She’s grungy right now. She got to roll around and be a horse. Right, sweetie?” she asks Summer. “This is her first big show. This horse has been shown her entire life, but mostly by children. She’s a doll.”
“We raised her,” Reid continues, referring to her husband, Erik, there in the barn with her. Reid met him while training his parents’ horses. “We owned her mother and her father. We were right there when she was being born. We’ve done all of the training and the work with her ourselves. She is mainly ridden by kids. Her primary job in life is to be a lesson horse and to teach others.”
Is it at all unusual for a horse that helps train humans proper riding techniques to be shown in a championship? Reid nods vigorously.
“At this level, yeah. And also for her age, because she’s 18.”
“She’s 18?” asks the young woman who’s currying Summer, clearly surprised.
“Yeah,” laughs Reid. “She’s 18!”
Reid says she decided to put Summer into the competition because she’d always wanted to go to the Pinto World Champion show, pulling Summer from her usual duty of riding lessons around six weeks ago and training her for competition. Winning doesn’t mean Summer won’t have to work anymore, though.
“Now that she’s home, she’ll go back into her role as a lesson horse, because that’s what she does,” says Reid, although she point out that her riders will certainly benefit from it. “I was telling somebody, how cool is it to being in a kid and say, ‘This is Summer, you get to ride her today, and she’s a world champion,” she laughs.
“Yaaaawn, Summer,” says Reid, putting a show halter on the mare for the camera. “Are you sleepy this morning? I don’t blame you, I’m sleepy, too.”
“It’s the company she keeps,” teases Erik.
“I’m still exhausted, too,” says Reid. “It was a long trip.”
For more information about the ranch and to inquire about riding lessons, call (540) 616-7001, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.shadowranchva.com.