DENVER, Iowa (AP) — If Kim Kass had one wish, it’d be that she could spend every minute with her horse.
“I’d be living the life I love to live,” she said. “There’s nothing better than starting your morning with your horse. It’s peaceful, it’s just us, the birds, and the crickets.”
While this is not reality, the seasoned horse exhibitor from Denver did recently get to live out a dream of hers.
Kass took a 10-hour trip with her niece, nephew, and sister last month to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the 57th Pinto World Championship Show for the first time.
The 1991 Denver High School graduate not only created lasting memories but excelled in competition.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports she walked away with two “Reserve World Champion” buckles after competing in amateur and open halter horse show classes with her American Paint Horse WR Ima Timely Review, otherwise known as Paige.
The time at the world championship was also the first time she showed off a newly embellished, turquoise showmanship jacket.
In halter, a horse is judged on its conformation while being led, not ridden.
Kass also competed in an amateur walk-trot showmanship class where everybody has their horse travel the same pattern and similarly, neither the horse nor the owner can make physical contact with each other.
Whether she ends up returning to the Pinto World Championship Show is still a question, but appears unlikely because Paige is getting older and already had babies.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get to go back again. At this point, this was the one and only time. I would absolutely love to go again,” she said. “But for now, this was a bucket list item. I decided to live for a change; instead of sticking to the normal hum drum of every day.”
Kass trains Paige on her own at her family’s barn where there is no indoor arena or heated facility.
To her, success is based on a few things: Practice and becoming familiar with the horse.
“You really got to put the time in. The better bond that you have with the horse, the better off you’re going to be,” she said.
In fact, it’s so strong that she touts how the horse can be without a halter and she won’t have to worry about the horse trotting off and never coming back.
“That’s because of all the time we’ve spent working together,” she said.
Kass also described her horse as sometimes being goofy but, when it comes time to compete, she has a “game face.”
Additionally, she is too smart for own good, Kass said. She has to be careful not to practice the patterns with Paige too frequently.
“She learns the pattern so fast and then she anticipates what I’m going to do next, and then it’s almost to the point where she’ll be ready to go onto the next maneuver before I’m ready to,” Kass said.
Kass also touted her “drastic improvement” in showmanship because of her friend Kathy Hart, of Port Richey, Florida.
Kass sends videos of her training, and Hart will offer tips on how to improve from miles and miles away.
One reminder Hart will give her is to smile every once in a while because that omission will lead to a lower score.
“A lot of the time, I forget to breathe until I get halfway through. You’re trying to remember this pattern and not screw up,” she said.
No matter whether or not she ends up back at the World Championships, Kass is reminded every time she’s out with Paige in competition or at her parent’s farm, that she’s special and how her “horse world is right” because of her.
“I call her my sanity,” Kass said.
Kass had sold Paige to a family in 2012 when she was 2 years old, but kept her mother.
“But when I lost her dam (mother), my horse world wasn’t the same anymore,” she said.
That led to that happy day in 2014 when she was able to reunite with Paige and buy her back.
And now Paige can call Denver home for good.
“You can be having a really crummy day, but go on over and spend time with your horse and forget about all the junk that’s going on in life,” Kass said.