The Perfect Match

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You've met Naughty more than once while reading this blog, but I don't think I've ever introduced you to her half-brother, Tuff.

Tuff, Chris, and Sam, showing off their winnings. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

Tuff, Chris, and Sam, showing off their winnings. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

I owned Tuff for three years, sold him, and through a turn of events came to own him again in the summer of 2009. Tuff is probably twice Naughty's size, very heavy muscled, and very handsome. He and Naughty are two of the youngest offspring of Princes Trademark, an ApHC World Champion halter stallion who has produced some great performance horses, and is one of the winningest sons of Prince Plaudit. I ran Tuff for a few years as Onyx's backup, and he was a great, laid back horse.

When Tuff came to live with me again in 2009, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him. He was sound, but he had some arthritis and in this horse market, I wouldn't be able to sell him for too much, though he is a good, quiet, consistent horse. So, instead of braving the very down horse market, I decided I'd look to find him a good home, for free.

Tuff and Chris with their new buckle. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

Tuff and Chris with their new buckle. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

First, Tuff was kicked out of a therapeutic riding program. He was just a little too young at 10 years old to live in a cushy stall, eat treats all day, and give slow rides. I wasn't sure what to do with him after that, until one day I was browsing around Facebook and stumbled upon a barrel racer friend of mine's page.

My friend, Sam, owns a large lesson barn and guest ranch in the hills of Virginia, with hundreds of acres of pasture, gorgeous stalls with fans, lots of cattle, and a huge indoor. I instantly messaged Sam, told her about Tuff, and she told me, "Chelsea, when I find a good trail horse, he won't leave my farm." The next week, I was meeting Sam in West Virginia (the halfway point between our farms) to deliver the big guy. I gave him a hug, wished him the best, and off he went to his new home in Virginia.

Sam kept me updated on Tuff's progress in her lesson program, and he was doing great. Then, after a few months, Sam told me her 8-year-old niece, Chris, had taken a liking to Tuff, and that she needed a barrel horse to go her speed and help her build her confidence in the arena. I told Sam every detail off Tuff's barrel career and training, and soon Chris and Tuff were winning blue ribbons at local shows.

Tuff and Chris making a winning run. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

Tuff and Chris making a winning run. | Photo by Ronnie Gisler.

This weekend, I got an excited phone call from Chris' mom Nikki, beaming with pride as she told me Chris and Tuff claimed their first ever belt buckle! The photos from their winning weekend were so great, I sent them around to all of my family and friends who knew Tuff.

I couldn't have asked for a better match for my old horse, and boy is he perfect for Chris.

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