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Mother-daughter duo rides with world’s best

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Lamar family brings home trophies, memories from horse show

By DON STEEN

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Staff Writer

reporter@spencercountyjournal.com

 

LAMAR – Janie Schnuck and her daughter, Haley, have collectively brought home six world-championship titles and three reserve world championships from the 53rd annual Pinto World Championship horse show in Tulsa, Okla. The 13-day horse show attracts skilled horseback riders and some of the finest animals in the world, where they compete in several disciplines to distinguish themselves. The comparatively humble mother-daughter duo from Lamar managed to set themselves apart in many of these events, including barrel racing, pole bending and stake racing.

Janie was named world champion in two disciplines and reserve champion in two others. This comes not even a year after her last successful showing at the American Paint Horse Association’s World Championship in Fort Worth, Texas, where she brought home three world-championship titles.

She has been on horseback since she was two years old, growing up around her family’s horses in Georgetown, Ky. Janie’s passion for horses stayed with her, and ultimately led her to the Eternal City of Rome, Italy, where she offered her services as a tutor to an Italian family’s two children. After returning to the United States, she moved to Spencer County and established herself as a volunteer helping teach 4-H students the equestrian arts.

Most of her spare time, however, is dedicated to helping her own two daughters, Hannah and Haley, get in the spirit of horseback riding as well. They needed little encouragement in this regard, and their lifelong training the family-spanning passion was evident in Haley’s own performance in Tulsa.

Haley had participated in one event prior to the Pinto World Championship, where she earned placement as a reserve champion in one category. Her recent second showing saw her earn four world-championship titles and one reserve championship. The prospect of seeing Haley follow in the family’s equestrian tradition was even enough to compel Haley’s grandmother, Betty Kerkhof, to drive 9.5 hours from New Boston to Tulsa to watch her compete.

Janie recalled a swell of emotions watching Haley successfully navigate challenge after challenge, even after the two could safely rest on their laurels. These feelings were compounded by the fact that while she and her daughters have been around horses all their lives, competitive riding is a whole other world, and seeing Haley master it was the highlight of the event for Janie.

“It’s just off the charts,” she said.

In addition to the mother-daughter duo, two of the family’s horses, Frosty and Ruby, also distinguished themselves at the event. Frosty, a 17-year-old gelding that Janie rode with great success in Fort Worth a year ago, joined the Schnucks on their journey to Tulsa. Serving as a companion to both riders during various events at the show, Frosty once again proved a capable and loyal horse who more than held his own against the competition.

Haley’s 15-year-old mare, Ruby, also accompanied the family to the Pinto World Championship and showed her worth. In a way, Ruby has been in the Schnuck family for much of her life. She was born and raised by Janie’s sister in Kentucky before being sold to another family in Ohio. When the time came to search for another horse for their up-and-coming ranch in Lamar, Janie sought out this family and agreed to buy Ruby back to this neck of the woods. Ruby has been with the Schnucks for the past two years.

A new barn has been built at the Schnuck home to house the family’s horses, and Ruby and Frosty have become quite fond of sheltering together on what Janie has dubbed “Sunshine Ranch.”

“They’re almost inseparable,” she said. “They rule the farm like they’re king and queen.”

Janie noted that though both horses are getting on in years, they have performed admirably throughout their time with the family. She pointed out that many of the horses brought to bear against them were quite expensive and bred specifically for competitive events. This left Janie and Haley with a sense of apprehension at first, but ultimately made their victories all the more meaningful.

“You can get a little intimidated,” said Janie. “They’re riding a $100,000 horse and your riding maybe a $10,000 or $17,000 horse.”

The mother and daughter plan to continue to hone their skills and show off their faithful steeds at whatever events they can. They hope to be present at the Kentucky State Fair and other such events throughout the year to continue to grow their partnership with each other and their horses.

“There’s honestly a horse show every week, you just have to have the money to go,” said Janie. “We don’t, so we have to pick and choose.”