Max and his Progress
Thank you once again to Jonna Coachman for her editing work.
Update from Carla Hendrix
For those familiar with the Nokota Horse Breed, you probably have heard of Leo and Frank Kuntz. These two brothers created the non-profit organization, Nokota Horse Conservancy. With continued efforts and the help of volunteers around the country, they have dedicated their lives to saving these endangered wild horses. Willow May Farm is home to Max (aka Moonshadow), a 6yr old Nokota owned by Ellen and Carla Hendrix. Max was rescued by the Conservancy and started by Leo Kuntz when he was a colt. At a local Nokota Charity Polo Match, we met up with the Kuntz Brothers and discussed Max and his progress since leaving the Conservancy. Always concerned about the well-being and whereabouts of their rescued horses, Leo wanted to visit with Max once again.
So in March, we had an honored visit from Leo Kuntz and his son Cole. We brought Max out for a little play time and let him loose in the indoor arena; and after a couple playful bucking bouts,Max was his typical nosey self. Always a people horse, he was eager to inspect the newcomers to his home. Max even seemed to remember Leo. It was amazing. They were happy to see Max settled and loved at his new home.
Max and his trip to Devon - see below
September's usually a busy month here at WillowMay Farm, and this year's no different. First, summer camp wrapped up a few weeks earlier, and everyone headed back to school. Then we celebrated some birthdays here at the farm, including my son's. In addition, we welcomed a new staff member, Courtney. We've been busy showing her the ropes as we begin preparing the barn and horses for the upcoming winter months.
Shortly after Courtney's arrival, she took a message from Team Nokota regarding Max-a Nokota who is boarded here by Ellen and Carla Hendrix. As luck would have it, I wasn't able to reach Team Nokota. Instead of phoning, I gave email a try, and I finally got in touch with Susan Pizzini. She advised me of the Nokota exhibition that was scheduled at Devon during the American Gold Cup and invited Max and me to participate. My initial reaction was to decline, there was just so much going on here at the barn. However, my husband, Shariq, urged us to go. What a great opportunity for Max and WillowMay Farm!
I called Margaret Odgers and offered to attend with Max. She was so grateful and replied with an enthusiastic "Yes!" So with Shariq planning the day's activities and Courtney handling the riding lessons, I spent the rest of the day bathing, clipping, trimming, and braiding Max. The next step was to gather the barn girls, who helped me to clean Max's tack and load the trailer. Since Devon was also hosting an uninvited guest-Hurricane Ivan-we packed our rain gear too. So with umbrellas in hand, we headed off to Devon . Team Nokota and the Devon fans made us feel so welcome. In fact, Max and I will be participating in additional demonstrations (Thanks to Ellen and Carla).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Team Nokota for the appreciation they bestowed upon us during this event. A special thank you also goes out to Kim Snyder and the barn girls for all of their help at Devon . Thanks again to Ellen and Carla. To Team Nokota, thank you too. We're glad to be on board. A very special thank you goes out to Shariq for all of his support and organizational skills. I couldn't have done it without you.
You know the saying, “it was the best of times - it was the worst of times”. So describes Team Nokota’s second venture into the prestigious Dixon Oval at the Devon Horse Show Fairgrounds – this time for an exhibition at The American Gold Cup – a Grand Prix Show Jumping event.
New recruits, Julie Fitzpatrick and Moonshadow (aka Max). Max is owned by Carla and Ellen Hendrix
From the onset, Team Nokota was beset with troubles pulling together yet another last-minute event. We scrambled to gather a team of Nokotas and volunteers to participate.
And then, after casting a wary eye on weather reports all week, it seemed inevitable that the remnants of Hurricane Ivan was taking aim for the Dixon Oval just in time for our exhibition. The morning of the event - our phones were ringing off the hook – everyone frantic over riding in the midst of this particularly vicious storm. What to do – oh - what to do???
The bottom certainly seemed to fall out when we learned – early that morning - that Dorrie Bettle would be unable to bring Micky Blue Eyes. No Micky? Torrential rain? Flood watches? Thunderstorms? High winds? Is it really worth it?
The two blue "Moons". Julie Fitzpatrick and Moonshadow (Max) on the left and Margaret Odgers on Moonshine (right)
And, then, merely moments after hearing that Micky Blue Eyes wouldn’t make the event – we received a most unexpected phone call. Out of the blue, Julie Fitzpatrick of WillowMay Farm in Newtown Square, PA phoned to ask if we’d be interested in having another Nokota attend the Gold Cup Exhibition. It seemed that Julie, the trainer of a stunning blue roan Nokota gelding named Moonshadow (aka Max), had been trying to reach Team Nokota for awhile to offer her help. Her timing was unbelievable! “Yes! yes! yes!” we chorused, “please, please, please bring Max”.
And so, newly inspired, we determined that Team Nokota’s appearance would go on - rain or shine. Nothing would stop us. We even made arrangements for the horses to stay overnight at the showgrounds in case of heavy flooding.
Team Nokota's Gold Cup Exhibition Team - (left to right) Julie Fitzpatrick on Max, Margaret Odgers and Moonshine, Kat Bauder and Chico, and Caitlyn Caldwell on Kooper
And so, the Nokota “Purple Heart” – for valiant service in overcoming every obstacle- is given out to the following Team Nokota members and horses: Caitlyn Caldwell and Last Man Standing (Kooper), Kat Bauder and Chico, Margaret Odgers and Moonshine, Chris Odgers, Catherine Sparks, Pam Pew, Susan Pizzini, Suzie McGlinchy, Jill and Geoff Roehrs.
In the Dixon Oval
And huge and special thanks go to the folks who saved the day – and gave us the inspiration to carry on – Julie Fitzpatrick of WillowMay Farm, along with her entourage of young helpers, and Ellen and Carla Hendrix – owners of Max. And, of course, thanks to Max himself - a truly beautiful representative of the Nokota breed. We just can’t begin to describe how much it meant to have this group join us. We certainly hope to see more of Max in the future. Thank you, Julie, Ellen, Carla and Max, from the bottom of our hearts.
Was it worth it? The answer is obviously, resoundingly – yes! Go Team Nokota!
Max and his travels
Max is learning well to become a Teamnokota member. He is learning to travel long distances and be examined by the all the inquisitive members of the public trying to find out more about this wonderful breed. Max and Kooper both did the breed justice at the parade of breeds. Max who likes to be kept outside (no matter what the weather conditions) had to be stabled for 3 days with no turn out. Max behaved liked a perfect gentleman in the booth and liked the attention of all the on lookers. When the parade of breeds riding segment came, Max was a little anxious but was soon put to ease by Kooper a seasoned Teamnokota gelding and rode well along side him.
Nokota Horse Conservancy Booth hosted once again by long-time Nokota horse owners and supporters - Jim Mackler and Judy Haight of New York.
On hand for this event will be Team Nokota Exhibition Horses - Last Man Standing owned by Caitlyn Caldwell, and Moonshadow, owned by Carla and Ellen Hendrix and handled by Julie Fitzpatrick & Kim Snyder of WillowMay Farms.
Also travelling in to attend from North Dakota will be Frank Kuntz, co-founder of the Nokota Horse Conservancy, and Shelly Hauge.