This is an essay written by Sydney Bard for the
"World's Greatest Lesson Horse"
Skip-A-Wrangler has touched and
in many cases changed the lives of others who have had the fortune enough to
come in contact with her. She is a horse that few will ever forget.
There are many reasons why she should be named World's Best School Horse,
please, allow me to tell her story.
Skip was born late July as the daughter of appaloosa champion, Sir Wrangler (himself a Breyer). She was a strong willed foal, and allowed few to get close to her. Jan Bard saw her out in the pasture and immediately fell in love with her.
"This horse is mine," she said to herself when she saw Skip standing next to her mother, impatient to begin the days run. Jan had been used to seeing all her favorite horses sold, but this one she could keep, (born late in the summer nobody would want her for the show ring!).
Skip refused to be easily halter broken. An old friend told her about a trick to help the horse obey the halter. She tied Skip to a donkey and let the donkey teach her how to lead. Skip fought for the first day, but by the time Jan untied her from that donkey, she thought people were her friends! This impression lasted for a lifetime!
When she was two years old a young trainer introduced her to riding. She was a natural, she could stride out in her trot in English and make herself look like she was floating on a cloud. When Western came around, she slowed and had the smoothest jog. It seemed like she loved going into the show ring and showing the many watchers just how beautiful horse and rider could be together. After her show career there were many offers to buy Skip, but Jan wouldn't even listen to them.
Next phase of her journey was to pack Jan on a week long ride up in the mountains where people were scarce and nature was abundant. She took her best friend Chris Nelson, and together the two set off with the truck and trailer to the untamed wilderness. Since then Skip and Jan have scoured the country side, traversed the Paysaten Wilderness and most of the Crest Trail of Washington. Skip became much photographed overlooking lakes or standing on ledges. Surefooted and an energetic climber!
This is where I came into the picture. I am Jan Bard's daughter, Sydney Bard. I found myself giving lessons to my good friend Nichol. She fell in love with Skip almost as completely as Mom had done. We took it slow and taught her everything she needed to know to work a horse calmly and steadily. Nichol started showing and Skip once more shined like a start. People found it hard to take their eyes off that pair. I'll admit it was a good match, but once again Skip was to change riders. Nichol sadly had to move, leaving Skip to wonder what would be next.
This time I was the lucky one who took her over. I showed with her my first year in 4-H. We did very well, getting medals for her performance, and she took all the way to the state finals. Only nine in our age group out of all King County were chosen to be the representatives. Skip and I were one of the lucky few. I was determined to show people how talented this horse was so also gamed on her. This she loved! She can run like the wind and turn on a dime. We did all this in the same year! (Mom had to ride one or our broodmares in the mountains that year!)
I was asked to give lessons to a nine year old girl who had never been on a horse before. I immediately thought Skip was the perfect horse to put her on, because Skip was gentle and seemed to know just how much to push to increase the riders ability, without scaring the poor girl to death. Her name was Julie Rothenberg, she came to me hoping I could teach her how to get that special bond with the horse and train it as the same time. I didn't have to worry about teaching that to Julie. The first lesson it was apparent that Julie had found what she was looking for. Now she just needed the skills to ride with confidence. Skip seemed to understand that and took it very slow and patiently.
It was Julie's first show and she was very nervous. Skip didn't get uptight, she knew this old routine, and loved it. Julie went into the arena and a smile was beaming from her face so radiantly, it would have been hard not to notice. She took two seconds and a third in that show. Her second show she decided to get a little riskier and took her in a canter class, she won the class and deserved every congratulations that were thrown her way. Julie is now 11 and still riding Skip.
Skip and I have a new project, a little girl named Abby, who is now riding and trying to learn all about 4-H. She is doing very well and Skip gets a lot of attention. Skip is 13 years old and has lived a happier life then most can brag of. I am now 16 years old and seem to be giving a lot of lessons. I initially will ride behind the saddle and show the younger kids how to handle the reins. I am having fun and earning money!
Mom looks back on all the fun she had with Skip, and sees in her eyes that Skip will never forget all that was done for her. I think Skip would be the perfect choice for this contest. She has over come much of the doubt put against her, she has taught many people how to overcome their fear and strive for the ultimate accomplishment. Skip has shown many people what it feels like to win and gave them the confidence to be the best!
Sydney Bard April 20,