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Horse Sense

Like many youngsters, Holly White wanted a pony when she was 4-years-old.

Since her mom and grandmother both grew up with horses, and her dad used to work for a local polo club, it seemed natural that she would have a horse of her own one day.

Holly White and her first pony, Smokey.

“Every little girl dreams of having her own pony someday, and my grandmother helped to make that come true for me,” said White, manger of records. “I was 13 when I got Smokey, an Arabian-Appaloosa (buckskin) pony cross, and began taking formal riding lessons.”

White says Smokey taught her a lot about responsibility, and he “probably kept me out of trouble during high school,” she said. “My parents would always threaten to sell him or take away my privilege of having riding lessons.”

And it worked.

“As a teenager, I would be quick to change my attitude because the thought of not being able to see my ‘best friend’ or bring Smokey to a horse show would just make me feel awful,” said White.

In high school, White showed Smokey “a lot and I have shown him at the United States Pony Club Championships. He even qualified for the Pony Club’s International Championships once.”

The connection White felt with Smokey continued through college. She brought her horse to Alfred University, where she competed for the equestrian team.

Her choice of major, communications in equine business, along with her riding and showing credentials, proved to be a good background for White. Her boyfriend Kevin Baumhover, who also grew up riding and showing horses, began a horse training and showing business—Baumhover Performance Horses (BPH)—with one horse, named Blaze and Gold.

“Blaze’s barn name is Ivan, and he is affectionately referred to as ‘Ivan the Terrible’ for the grumpy faces he makes,” said White. “Kevin started showing him and did well. People started talking about him at the horse shows, and everyone wanted to know who the ‘new kid on the block’ was. So, I created a Facebook page for BPH and began some local advertising. And word of mouth helped. With all that, Kevin kept getting more clients and horses to train, and BPH had to move from a 12-stall barn to a 24-stall barn, which includes a riding arena.”

White serves as the office manager for BPH, and is “responsible for billing, accounting, and whatever else needs to be done. Kevin has trained horses for multiple world horse shows across the country.”

Baumhover trains, shows, and sells American quarter horses, and offers riding, lessons, and training in hunter/jumper, western pleasure, hunter under saddle, trail, and all-around horse events.

White and Higgins at a hunter/jumper clinic, warming up in the canter and preparing to jump fences.

The American quarter horse name comes from its ability to outdistance other breeds of horses in races of a quarter mile or less. It is the most popular breed in the United States today, and is well known as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The American quarter horse is a mixture of Arabian, Spanish, and English bred horses and has been in existence since the 1600s.

BPH travels to two or three major quarter horse shows a month from April through November.

“We travel to different horse shows in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, and Syracuse and Hamburg in New York,” said White. “We travel with at least 10 horses to each show.”

They also compete in the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio in October, and if they qualify, compete at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Show in November.

White said most horse shows are several days long, and she will show 2-3 days in front of up to four judges.

The New Guy in Town in the hunter over fences class.

“I usually show in hunter over fences, a jumping class,” said White. “I will take my horse over a course of 8-12 obstacles made of a variety of materials, like bricks, hay bales, poles, brush, and flowers.”

White says the horse is judged on its demeanor, its movement, manners, and “way of going,” particularly while jumping fences.

She also shows in equitation, which refers to a rider’s position while mounted, and encompasses a rider’s ability to ride correctly and with effective aids. In horse show competition, the rider, rather than the horse, is evaluated.

In addition, White competes in the hunter under saddle class.

“In this class, multiple horses and riders are in the arena together,” said White. “The horses and riders will exhibit the three gaits—walk, trot, and canter—and the rider and horse are judged on how well they work together on the flat, and the horse’s movement and behavior around other horses.”

Horse and rider have to be in sync, said White.

“Wise horse people say, ‘Be the person your horse thinks you are,’” she said. “So I think, ‘Who does Smokey or Page or Blue or Gus, or any of my horses think I am.’ And that’s who I try to be.”

Added White: “It takes careful planning and scheduling to be able to work full-time, help out at the farm, and manage to find time to ride and show my own horses. There is a considerable amount of time, investment, and commitment to having horses, and it is really like another full-time job, even on the weekend. But it is worth it to me, and I wouldn’t give up my crazy horse-filled life for a minute.”

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