By Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse JournalMay 11, 2012
There are few things in life better than the view from the back of my American Quarter Horse, Lenas Fillynic, in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Texas Panhandle. (Photo by Tara Christiansen)
One of the best days in my family’s life was the day that my brother said, “I’m going to try this horse-thing.”
Well, OK, that’s not exactly the way it happened. Travis (my younger brother) might have gone around the 2005 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show telling everyone but his family that he was hanging up his soccer cleats in trade for a pair of boots and spurs. Word did get back to us about what Travis had in mind and none were more shocked to hear this proclamation than those who know him best.
To set the stage for you, up until the age of 14, my brother was the kid who asked, “Do we have to have horses?” And the answer to that was always, “Yes, we have to have horses.”
For the Christiansen family, horses aren’t a hobby – they’re our lifestyle. My dad, Terry, grew up showing horses, and his mother, Bonnie, spent her summers on ranches in eastern Washington and team roped with her father. My mom, Annette, didn’t come from a horsey-background, but like non-native Texans like to say, she “got here as fast as she could.”
Travis’ decision to take up horse showing really had the greatest effect on Mom’s lifestyle; she was generally the one who hauled him around to soccer games, while Dad and I took off in the opposite direction for shows.
Like most horse people, I wouldn’t trade my childhood growing up horses for fortune or fame. Marilyn Randall said it best in the May issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal: “There is never a better way to raise a kid than to spend time with them going down the road to a horse show.”
That statement was so true for my family – the four of us crammed into the cab of our truck with four dogs, and four horses in the trailer, going down the road to the next show.
What’s been funny to me is that most people wrongfully assume that since Mom doesn’t show, she doesn’t know that much about horses. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s the one who helps Dad decide which stallion to breed to, makes sure the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity slot payments are mailed off, packs the living quarters of our trailer, brushes the colts every day, renews our memberships, organizes vet visits and reminds us when the horses are due to be shod – she’s the glue that keeps our horse operation running.
More than anything, though, Mom is the one who reminds us that horses aren’t our hobby – they’re our family and they’re our lifestyle. Because of her, we’ve branched out from just training and showing horses. Because of her, we hit the trails and enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the view from the backs of our homebred American Quarter Horses.
From scaling the mountains of eastern Washington, to picking our way through prickly pear in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Texas Panhandle, to teetering along a dike that separates Skagit Valley farmland from the Puget Sound of western Washington, I can tell you that the view from the back of my American Quarter Horse looks just as good, if not better, as the view from running an AQHA world championship victory lap. And what’s even better is having my family, more importantly my mom, by my side.
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