SHAWN the Wonder Horse by Carol Mingst

Official (registered) Name: Emotionn
General Name: Shawn – AKA: Shawn the Wonder Horse
Breed/gender: Arabian Gelding – 100% CMK, Stud Book V Variety
Born: April 15, 1997, about 7 pm on the lawn out front of Warren Park Stud

How did I get my horse?  Well, actually, I ‘manufactured’ him myself.  After over thirty years of being involved with breeding Arabians through my family’s horses (Crown Jewel Arabians) and an equal amount of time forming my own opinions, I knew what I wanted.  I also happened to have his mother, Valkiri, who my family bred from Valenta, who was their first purebred Arabian and my riding horse many years back.  In 1995, I made a side trip on one of my vacations to see a stallion of interesting bloodlines.  I saw GA Topaz and loved what I saw.  I hadn’t been planning on breeding Valkiri at that time, but after a while I realized that no one else was likely to come over and do it if I didn’t.  So, I arranged a little ‘vacation’ for Valkiri in the spring of 1996.  The next year, my order came in.

Of course, I had ‘ordered’ a filly, but everything else was correct for my specifications.  This was not too terribly surprising since I knew Valkiri’s bloodlines quite well and had seen a couple foals from her and from close relatives.  I knew Topaz’s looks and his bloodlines and relatives and knew that I had a very limited range of possibilities between them.  (Both horses are in a smaller genetic pool from the total Arabian population.)  Shawn came out looking exactly as expected right down to the blaze on his nose.

Now I had the ‘raw material’.  Actually, I had more than that. Even at the start, Shawn was pre-loaded with personality.  At five days old, I decided to halter break him.  I put on the halter and lead and he did a very typical ‘throwing himself on the ground’ trick.  The a-typical thing he did was lie there and close his eyes, figuring if he couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see him.  Once I stopped laughing and got him up again, we tried leading.  He did it at least once more before deciding that this was not working so well.

I had wanted a filly because that way I could eventually breed the next generation from her.  With Shawn, I considered leaving him a stallion for the same reason at least until he had a foal or two.  He did have the bloodlines for it since he had a rather unique pedigree.  I left him ‘intact’ for over a year.  I got some training for him since I couldn’t get down to the ranch near Fresno very often.  Still, after a year of that and then some, I realized that I really didn’t have a need for a stallion.  I wanted a companion much more and I couldn’t bring him near enough to do both at this time.  Earl Kelly picked Shawn up from Warren Park and took him to his house.  Earl arranged for the vet to visit and my little guy became a gelding.

He spent a year or so at ‘Camp Kelly’ where he learned about lounging on a line and other things—including how to tell when Earl’s hot wire was shorted out and how to climb out of the pasture at those times.  Luckily, he never got into serious trouble.

He spent his second winter up near Lassan in Fall River Mills, where my family tended to keep young stock.  (Earl needed the stalls for his horses.)

In the spring of Shawn’s three year old year, I decided it was time that he come home to me.  I got him back from Lassan and brought him to San Ramon, to a ranch just one mile from Las Trampas stables.  (Las Trampas was under renovation at the time and wasn’t taking boarders.)  Valkiri was at Bollinger Canyon Stables and now I had a full-sized Shawn there as well.  Very quickly, I had him hooked up and ponying beside his mother.  We only spent about 10 minutes doing that in the arena before I headed for the hills with him.

From the start, Shawn liked the hills.  He was a big ‘tourist’, looking at everything, but he wasn’t afraid.  He was a good boy and stayed right with us (for the most part) as we went up and around the hills together.  We did have a few incidents, but from April to June of 2000, we were inseparable.  Then there was a slight hiatus while I recovered from an ‘oops’.  Never step in front of a horse who is about to jump over something.  I did this with Shawn and neither one of us had time to redirect things.  I got knocked backwards and hit my head on a rock.  Thankfully, I had a helmet on at the time, but I did get a concussion.  I couldn’t ride for a couple weeks.

I recovered and Shawn, Kiri, and I headed out again for the summer.  I even took him to Mt. Diablo so he could see what Kiri and I liked about it.  He did have a problem at the first water crossing in Pine Creek Canyon.  He was SURE that water was going to melt his feet!  We survived and even got through the others on the ride in one piece.

In the fall of 2000, I sent Shawn to Sandy Martindale in Sonoma, CA for initiation into things formal.  (I would have started him myself if I hadn’t been injured in the past.)  Sandy didn’t actually ride him in the 6 weeks he was there that fall, but she did lots of ground work and far more formal things than I had done—in addition to more ponying through the hills.

Shawn spent the winter back at Warren Park. I did visit a couple times including once when I put the Christmas costume on him for the first time.

Spring arrived and I took Shawn back to Sandy Martindale for the all-important lessons in being a riding horse.  Very soon she was riding him through the hills in the Sonoma area.  I went up and rode him as well, finally getting to go out with ‘my boy’.  He knew how to go through gates safely, go across water without fussing, and other all-important trail things.  Sandy was a bit more expensive than some of the show trainers I knew, but I figured I was going to spend most of my time on Shawn in the hills.  It was more important that he know how to handle himself among tree-tigers and rock-rhinos than how to go around in circles properly.

Soon I had him back home, though Las Trampas opened up again and Valkiri and Shawn went there.  I loved the other place, but with a green boy to ride, I wanted a place with an indoor arena and some other amenities that were not necessary with a mature mare.  I was then riding Shawn out in the hills at Las Trampas (alternating with occasionally ponying off of Valkiri).  By August, Valkiri had gone into retirement and Shawn was my constant companion under the saddle.

In the years since, we have had many adventures – frequently documented in my ‘Shawn-icles’ (e-mail stories to friends).  He has been to a couple shows – both open and Arab – and has even been champion native costume (mostly because I couldn’t get anyone else to join the class).  Most of the time, we have been in the hills.  I have taken many photos from his back (including changing film without dismounting).  I have explored a few different places and re-visited old favorites.

Still to come (I hope) are many more years that will be dotted with occasional appearances at shows—possibly even in dressage—and many, many more rides.

Carol Mingst Photography

All of these photos and many more can be found in my Fotki album: