When you walk to the edge of all the light you have
and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown,
you must believe that one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid for you to stand upon,
or you will be taught how to fly. (Patrick Overton)
As far as I know I’ve been crazy about horses since I was born. Until college, I had to make do with hired horses at local stables and the two ornery Shetland ponies that my grandparents owned, Salt & Pepper. In college I began taking riding lessons and working at the stable and the dream was born, to work full time with horses.
At the age of 29, I was given my first horse, a rescued 4 yr old Appendix QH named Romeo. Unfortunately, four months after Romeo arrived, he was shot in a drive-by shooting and suffered lifelong back pain that became, in the end, debilitating. He never really got the chance to fly…..
Meanwhile, I had continued in the banking career that got me through college and advanced to branch manager but it just wasn’t where my heart was. Every day I prayed for an opportunity to work with horses. I interviewed with several of the top “natural horsemanship” trainers in the industry but none seemed to be the right fit, as I did not want to leave my horse and my dog behind. Finally, at the age of 34, I was accepted as an intern with Equine Extremist Tommie Turvey. I quit the bank, sold my house, and in February 2006 I packed up all of my belongings, my horse and my dog and headed to the WAHL (clipper) Equestrian Center in Sterling, Illinois.
In the middle of winter in Illinois my first home was a travel trailer parked in the indoor warm-up arena between weekend shows. It was actually pretty cozy 🙂 Later that year, the Turveys rented a house in town and accepted more interns.
Tommie Turvey and his sister, Karen Turvey Marshall, operated Equine Extremist Entertainment and Training. Their specialties were liberty, roman riding, jumping over fire, racing chariots and performing a variety of tricks such as the laydown, situp, bow, etc, but we learned so much more. For 4 years I traveled with them around the U.S. performing in horse expos, clinics and evening shows. On nearly every trip we were treated to a nice shushi dinner and the company of whomever was in town at the time (William Shatner, Josh Lyons and Priefert’s Texas Thunder, among others).
In 2008 I was named as a trainer for Equine Extremist Entertainment and Training! I had the honor of working with a variety of horse breeds including Georgian Grande, American Silver, Trakehner, Gypsy Vanner and Friesian. I also worked with Sherman, the kangaroo and Popsy, the zebra, as well as riding a Watusi bull, and somewhere in there was an appearance on Clinton Anderson’s TV show “Downunder Horsemanship” 🙂
In 2005 a BLM Mustang adoption was held at the WAHL Equestrian Center. Tonto was adopted as a yearling and became my training project the following year.
In 2008 I traded a pay raise at EEE to be able to call Tonto mine forever. Without prior knowledge I intercepted his sale to another person that very day (sorry to whomever you are – there’s a joke about mustangs that “they tend to bond to one special person and you’re not that person” – I saved you from a lengthy learning process 🙂 )
In addition to being an equine entertainer, Tommie also performed as a stuntman and movie horse trainer and I was able to accompany him or his horses to several film sets, including Larry the Cable Guy’s Witless Protection. (Romeo was going to be an extra but the stunt rider couldn’t handle him and got tossed so Romeo appears during the credits footage, tied to the trailer 🙂
In 2009, I had the privilege of not only assisting in the training of two movie horses for “The Greening of Whitney Brown” but attending the filming in Atlanta and becoming the stunt double for the lead actress, Sammi Hanratty! The experience was surreal with personal assistants, private dressing rooms, and a virtual 7-11 supply of food. I performed about a dozen stunts including falling off a log into a river, falling out of a tree, galloping bareback in a prom gown and heels down the streets of Atlanta at midnight, galloping up to a moving train and climbing on, and crashing onto a buffet table. All of the riding was bareback and I loved my stunt horse, Mariah! She was formerly a brood mare and within 4 months we had her fit, riding and jumping 3′ effortlessly as well as performing all of the above stunts without blinking an eye! That’s girl power for you 🙂 On the set, we had to paint her nose to match Odd Job Bob’s markings.
After filming wrapped up in 2009 it was time to move on from EEE. I had paid my dues and reaped my reward and looked forward to my freedom! My friend invited me to move to Virginia so this time I packed up Romeo, Tonto and Duke (my dog) and headed to Blacksburg, VA. I landed at Paris Mtn Stables where I currently work and train. In 2012, Tonto & I auditioned for ACTHA’s America’s Favorite Trail Horse competition. You can view the video entry on my video page. The winner was chosen by popular vote and Tonto & I placed in the top 5 in the U.S. (my friend in Wisconsin had a better voting campaign, congrats Tracy!)
In addition to trail riding, swimming in the New River and showing, one of our favorite things to do is travel, demonstrating liberty work, bareback and bridleless riding, and tricks to inspire others to set their expectations high and reach for their dreams! I love working with all of my clients, turning problems into partnerships, cheering them on and celebrating their victories together!
2015: With the passing of time, I said goodbye to Romeo and Duke. Last year, Tonto and I welcomed a new addition, Boxer puppy Chase.
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” (Erma Bombeck). To Him be the Glory.