'Dollar Horse' from Livermore Wins Regional Equestrian Title
Front page article 1/9/03 issue of the Livermore Independent

A Livermore equestrian has turned a "dollar horse" into a champion. The horse is a 16-year-old registered Morgan gelding named Bold Micah. He's owned by Tesla Road resident JoAnn Swift. Swift acquired Bold Micah two years ago from an owner who, seeing no promise in the horse, was eager to get rid of him - indeed, so eager that he was offered for free.

To make it a legal sale, a $1 price was agreed upon. Swift, who is 66, rode Bold Micah this past year to a regional championship in the over-50 trail trials competition sponsored by the California State Horseman's Association. "It was a challenge training him to be a trail horse," Swift says. Prior to her acquisition of the horse, he had been trained to perform in arenas, not on trails. Bold Micah was used to passing from stall to arena back to stall, with minimal interaction with other animals. Swift says, "He's pretty independent in temperament. He doesn't like other horses to come near him. That may be because of some experience when he was younger, but it may also be because of the way he was first trained. When I got him, he was used to being in an arena by himself. So that's been a challenge in itself, getting him used to other horses on the trail."

Bold Micah has also had to adapt to people, dogs, mules, wildlife, streams, fences, bridges, fallen branches and other unforeseen obstacles, and everything else that can be found on or near a public trail. The Horseman's Association competitors participate in three rides through the year. The scoring is cumulative. The judging is based on the horse maintaining a calm demeanor as he negotiates the trail in the face of the various challenges that arise. According to Swift, Bold Micah has grown so calm from his trail training that she allows her son, Chuck, who is disabled from a head injury, to ride him. This is the first time JoAnn Swift has been a champion in the regional competition. She owns two other horses, and has been riding since 1972. She says, "I've loved horses all my life. When my children entered school, it freed time for me during the day and I took advantage of it by leasing a horse. We lived in Pleas! anton then. I did that for a year and a half and then decided to buy a horse. I've just always loved horses." She and her husband, Charles, a retired Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist, have lived in the Livermore-Amador Valley since 1960. They moved in 1977 to their present home, a five-acre ranchette on Tesla Road. JoAnn Swift rode in parades with the Alameda County Cattlewomen (formerly Cowbelles) for nine years. She currently is an officer in the Tri-Valley Trail Blazers. She chairs their insurance program and has co-coordinated their major fund-raiser, a vineyard/winery ride, six times.