Jokers Magic aka Wyoming – 20 year old APHA gelding
Wyoming’s journey with the Zessin Family began in December 1996 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. We were attending a draft horse and carriage auction. Instead of bringing a Belgian draft horse home we brought home a yearling paint gelding. Worth mentioning: It was the first time that it was Gregg’s idea to buy a horse instead of mine. From the very beginning Wyoming was willing but very independent. He made a habit of getting hurt more often than all of the rest of the horses combined. Nothing serious but always something. He always fit in with the draft horses as if he was one, which I am sure he thought he was. I got him going under saddle and at the same time we taught him how to drive with the drafts. Over the years many draft and saddle horses came and went but Wyoming was always in the mix. We used him trail riding, gathering cows, packed him into the back country and lead a pack string from him, drove him as part of a pair and four up for parades, plowings and even did some combined driving, a driven version of three day eventing, with him. He has earned awards for his hours, miles and accomplishments with the APHA Ride America program as well as the APHA Paint Alternative Competition (PAC) program. Wyoming also went through a rigorous process to become a certified equine with the Walla Walla County Search and Rescue Team for about 10 years and was deployed on many searches. These are all wonderful gifts he gave us but they were far from the most important ones.
With a bunch of nieces and nephews around, Gregg and I didn’t see a need to have kids! From the time that Wyoming was 4 he was the horse that our most precious cargo was assigned to. He helped to teach them how to care for animals. He taught them how to be a good leader for him; remember I mentioned that he was independent well he was also opinionated. He taught them how to work hard as he always comes into the barn to poo and pee and who ever got to ride him had to clean his stall. He was always there for them to crawl up on and have a good cry when they had a bad day. He provided the opportunity for them to learn thousands of life’s little lessons and several of them have very fond memories of growing up with him. One of the most favorite was ski joring with him. If the kids weren’t paying attention to him while they were swapping ski boots for cowboy boots so they could take turns, Wyoming would take himself back to the barn and wait by his halter in hopes that they were done. Perhaps some of you have ridden with Wyoming’s most recent pilot, 12 year old niece Makenzie. They have partnered to win numerous buckles and awards over the past 4 years and developed a very deep connection. Wyoming’s influence didn’t stop there.
He has touched a few adult lives as well. Not only was our dear friend, Bobbette, traveling with Gregg and I on the trip to the Draft Horse Sale when we bought Wyoming, she has remained a part of his life throughout the last 19 years. After an unfortunate involuntary dismount off of Cedo in 2008, resulting in an extremely fast ambulance ride and hours in the emergency room, Wyoming stepped up to the plate and took on the role of guardian while Bobbette regained her confidence and developed a training plan to develop Cedo into the successful competitive trail show horse that many of you may remember from past years of competing here at OHC and other events.
Another fan of Wyoming’s, Mickie Maxson-Box also has a story. Many may not know but she was diagnosed, in 2005, and lives with Cerebral Palsy. When symptoms and signs originally started showing up and we realized what was happening Gregg and I offered Wyoming to her to ride. Her family joined us in being concerned for her safety and wanted to make sure that she still had the opportunity to ride for as long as possible. Wyoming was able to make that happen for her until such time that she was able to regain much of her ability to balance and become independent again.
On September 13, 2008, Wyoming escaped from his pen in the barn and during his romp through the property, he chose a path across some concrete that sent him skating head first into a 4×4 post with his forehead. The accident also included him getting tangled in some panel fencing and the resulting injuries were severe. We quickly realized that the accident caused blindness. After veterinary services, it was deemed that the next 48 hours were critical for Wyoming. With the instructions that his head had to be kept protected, we padded his pen with blankets and sleeping bags, placed a cot on the outside of the pen, and there I spent the night, with my hand on the lead rope and Wyoming’s nose touching my hand. We had several close friends and family help us, over the following weeks, provide that level of care that enabled Wyoming to very slowly regain some of his vision, mobility and personality. Although Wyoming remains with limited vision, especially with objects down low and close, he leads a normal life.
While Gregg and I show ownership on his registration papers we know that Wyoming is claimed, in one way or another, by a very large extended family. We were just blessed to be the ones to play the role as primary caregivers.
Gregg and I trust and visualize Wyoming’s guardian nature will continue as young new members of the Zessin family, and individuals we might not even know yet, make that step into the stirrup and experience the love of this special horse.
In closing, thank you to the Banks Family for loving and honoring Cowboy for his contribution to the lives of their family. While preparing for this class the Zessin Family had the opportunity to re-live many of our special times and memories with Wyoming. Your commitment to honoring a special horse created a wonderful laughter and tear filled walk down memory lane for our family, one that we are grateful for.