Heather Harris and Janeway

The best company of horses and fellow humans, panoramic Western vistas from a clear mountaintop, and trekking from our dry hills through a few nicely shaded, leafy glens on a warm day: there's nothing like coming back from a perfect trail ride to jump-start a personal testimonial about a perfect trail riding horse. So... I had ridden dressage and trail on a spectacular horse for the last 23 years, and he was a hard act to follow. But like many riders "of a certain age," I elected to eschew the hot-blooded mounts of my younger days, elected to avoid nominally greenbroke young hellions, and elected to gravitate towards a little more predictability. Why not? The search began for a great looking, interesting horse who would not be an unwanted challenge since I am, at this point, somewhat ancient and damaged. The three "S's" of safe horse buying sounded good: sound, sane, and short. So did gaited, since its brief, previous appearances had been so fun. Research kept pointing like a berserk geiger counter to a somewhat rare breed for this part of the country (California), the Rocky Mountain Horse (from Kentucky.) My family on both sides is hardcore Southern, so the horses' 200 years of provincial history and desired traits made perfect sense to me. And there's no shortage of "spectacular" in their looks. The geiger counter also kept fixating on the best locale west of the Mississippi to find that perfect trail Rocky Mountain Horse, which would be Mindy Smith Rockies, and it's not just the overall quality of her horses. Why? In general, her specialty of breeding, training and brokering Rockies and other gaited pleasure horses for a quarter of a century has paid off in great dividends numerically of happy customers. But try to fathom the difficulty to liaison the sheer subjectivity of horse buying/selling and the objectivity of horse/human matchmaking. Just add one secret ingredient: Mindy Smith is unflaggingly honest about matching horse's and rider's abilities to one another. I dragged my feet on two otherwise lovely Rockies that I test rode because we didn't "click," and Mindy didn't punish by dropping me to the bottom of the waiting list for this desirable breed. Instead, as a horsewoman she understood what I sought and why. And found her for me. Pictured, Captain Janeway (her RMH registered name, that of a Star Trek character unique in the canon as a middle-aged female authority figure)(huzzah!) and me. Thank you Mindy Smith for Janeway. She is a nice, nice, nice mare to ride! -Heather Harris