In early May, horse show mom Nikki Coates-Schultz of West Bend,
Wisconsin had the agonizing task of telling her young daughter that her
beloved horse, A Sweet Addiction, had died in a tragic fire at her trainer's barn. "Nic" was one of 13 horses who died at Larry and Rhonda Spratto's Wisconsin facility late one stormy night due to a
Schultz was kind enough to share her thoughts about
the tragic loss of two of her horses and the resilience of her two
young children. Through it all, one special horse has
brought new hope and light into the Schultz's lives during this difficult time and turned tears into cheers. By Nikki Coates-Schultz
"One of the more difficult things we have had to do as parents was telling our 12 year-old daughter, Katelyn, that her youth horse and best friend had perished. Katelyn had a successful show season in 2011 culminating with a Top-10 at Congress with her gelding, A Sweet Addiction. She was looking forward to showing in 2012 when 13 show horses were lost after a devastating lightning strike and resulting barn fire at Larry and Rhonda Spratto’s on May 3, 2012. Not only had we lost “Nic” but also our four year-old gelding, Iron I Hot, who was to be Katelyn’s next horse.
Katelyn and our 10 year-old son, Jarod, asked through their tears when they would be riding and showing again and how we would ever find new horses. We weren’t quite sure how to answer that question and probably wouldn’t have even begun to undertake the search so quickly had they not been so adamant. We have learned through this difficult time that the resiliency of children is an amazing thing!
We were fortunate to have our 20 year-old small fry gelding, One Tuff Goodbar, at home, but he prefers not to lope if he doesn’t have to. Jarod immediately asked me to call and offer to share "Fred" with Claudia Prinsen, a nine year-old girl who also lost her horse in the fire. Jarod
had recently made the transition to a really sweet 18 year-old mare
named, She Dun Did It, who was still in training at Schmitz Quarter
Horses at the time of the fire.
Several years ago, AQHA judge Suzy Jeane had found Fred for my kids, so I emailed her to tell her that I needed help finding Katelyn a new partner as soon as possible. As sad as Katelyn was, she just wanted to be back riding. Suzy replied that she had an idea and to call her. When I did, she told me about, Crashin The Bash, aka Ty, and that she thought that he might be just what Katelyn needed. Suzy’s son, T. Joe, had successfully shown Ty at the AQHYA Youth World in 2009. Suzy suggested Katelyn try Ty with T. Joe so that he could explain all of Ty’s buttons to her. Although Ty was a completely different style than Katelyn’s previous horses, they just really seemed to click. With a smile she said, “I think we should take him home!” (pictured left Katelyn and TY)
After a week together, we took them to the Memorial Day Classic shows in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with the expectation of just riding him around and maybe letting her try a class or two. The Spratto’s had not seen Ty in person yet when they arrived at the show, nor had Larry been on a horse since the accident. When he saw Katelyn riding him he said, “I have boots and jeans in the car.”
Needless to say, it was very emotional to go to a show for the first time, but it was so wonderful to see the kids in the show pen--seeing Rhonda schooling patterns and Larry back in the saddle. Both of the kids debuted with their new partners in Western Pleasure and Katelyn ended up first and Jarod was second in the Novice Western Pleasure class! Watching them walk out the gate together was a moment we will remember forever as our wonderful friends in the horse community cheered their accomplishments.
Katelyn and Ty end up showing in western pleasure, hunter under saddle, trail showmanship and performance halter, earning 16 points and the High Point Novice and 13 and Under Youth.
We are so appreciative of the many people who have offered their support during a very difficult time and are so thankful to turn tears into cheers with this new team of Katelyn and Crashin the Bash. They are looking forward to the Region 3 Championships in St. Paul and wrapping up the season this fall at the Congress showing in the 13 and Under Youth All Around events."
Thank you Nikki for sharing this wonderful story! We wish Katelyn and your entire family much happiness.
Congratulations on a great debut with your new horses. Cherish all your great memories with your beloved departed friends and continue to make new and fabulous ones with your new companions. Wishing you all the success you deserve in the 2012 show season.
Mike and Nikki, you have truly raised two amazing children and I hope this turns into an inspiration for many young people and adults as well.