From Wildman to Gentleman


I adopted “Chief Spookshimself”  a little over 5 years ago from a family that had given up on him.  Chief, a non-registered strawberry roan Pintaloosa, was shipped from Montana to California by accident. Yes, they sent the wrong horse and it gets pretty complicated after that so I’ll save you the details.  The owners were ready to send him to Red   Bucket Rescue, a local non-profit for abandoned horses, when I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time.

They asked me if “I knew someone that wanted a horse” and I had already been getting to know Chief since he was my mare’s barn neighbor. Even though he wasn’t handled much, I saw something special in him, so I agreed to take him. I noticed he was observant, sensitive and very macho. Combining all of those things, I had a ticking time-bomb on my hands. Early on, Chief snapped at least 5 lead lines and trashed a saddle before I was able to take him on a trail ride without incident. Everyone kept telling me “it was the Appaloosa in him”. But no matter, he just needed a leader.

Being a Docent / Trail Guide for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, It was my job to insure the safety of my guest riders and horses. So it became quite humorous when Chief would bust into his break dance for apparently no reason. I ignored it, and he would finally settle down for the rest of the day.

We are living proof that success is showing up and having a good time.

10Subsequently, I heard about ACTHA from some friends who were competing locally. Our first outing, put on by host Jody Childs, was both scary and eye-opening. However, I realized this is what Chief and I needed to improve our bond and trail skills. He continued to amaze me at the events but he always found a way to escape the Blue Ribbon- a smell, a piece of glitter, the sound of my water bottle crunching in the saddlebag. To him it was a 10 foot mountain lion licking its chops. We are living proof that success is showing up and having a good time. Last season we earned a spot in the Final Top 10 California, Bronze and Silver among other awards.

We love our new friends we’ve met at the ACTHA events and we continue to be challenged by every new AOC arena and CTC trail ride. No better place to enjoy the two things I love, horses and the outdoors. Chief still has his episodes now and again but he keeps me on my toes and shows me the way.

This story originally appeared in the August issue of the ACTHA Monthly Magazine.  For more stories like it, view the online magazine >>



Bob is a volunteer for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy serving as an Equestrian Docent-Trail Guide to their 50,000 acre wilderness located in Southern California. Bob specializes in History Rides sharing local stories about the Native Americans, Spanish Incursion, Days of the Rancho Dons and the Outlaws who lived and died here. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s