Owner and trainer Angie Meroshnokoff reflects on her horse, Beau, upon his induction into the NATRC Hall of Fame.
My favorite poem is by Robert Frost about two roads and taking the one less traveled by, and I think that poem best describes the path Beau and I have taken.
I bred this horse; his dam was a wild mustang mare that I adopted from the BLM when she was 4 yrs old and eventually became my NATRC horse. His sire was another incredible horse I owned and was also a mustang out of a wild caught mare – and those two have some amazing stories all on their own. Early in Beau’s life I thought he might be as good as his sire so I planned to keep him a stallion, but those plans changed quickly about the time he turned 5. I named him Desert Reinbeau because I knew we would become best beaus. Those of you who know him might be surprised to find that he has suffered 2 broken bones in his life. When he was a yearling, he broke a bone in his hock. It took about a year for him to go sound although that hock did give him trouble at times later in his career. Many many years later he broke a vertebrae in his neck from a fall during a ride but with great veterinary help he recovered completely.
I had done all of his early ground training discovering that he had a pretty strong temper when pushed. We got though a lot of tough stuff but when he was ready for saddle training, I wanted the best and discovered that Sue Eoff (youngest NATRC Presidents Cup winner) was back from riding in Europe and taking clients. She put the first 30 days on him, riding him often on the trails at Mt Diablo State park- the birthplace of NATRC – lots of destiny here. I took over from there continuing his training with occasional trail rides. Just as he was turning 5, my then current saddle horse had colic surgery that would make him unrideable for a long time and because I’d already discovered that trying to compete or show Beau as a stallion was challenging, I went ahead and had him gelded. After he recovered from that I had 2 months to make this new gelding into a competitive trail horse.
That first season was interesting to say the least. Beau was slower than any horse I had competed before, something I was struggling to live with and as I said before he had a temper. Learning to navigate some of the judged observations often deteriorated into a battle of wills but we got through it. We had a variety of riding partners that first year but by the 2nd season veteran rider Nancy Kasovich – who I had been conditioning with – took pity on us and suggested we ride together. In the meantime at home Beau and I were still working to improve our dressage skills with Sue Eoff and were showing 1st level and competing successfully in a Quadrille dressage team. This is where it gets funny. At one point Sue took me aside and suggested that if I was serious about dressage, I should sell my “pony” and get a real horse. Right about that same time at an NATRC ride, Nancy suggested that if I wanted to be competitive, I should sell him and buy an Arab. I told them both that it meant more to me to ride and compete on a horse that I bred and that I did most of the training on. Guess I have a real horse now ladies?
Beau’s first sweepstakes win was in our 3rd season together and that was the same year he won his first National Championship. Beau went on to win 7 National Championships, 2 Bev Tibbets National Grand Championships- helped me win 2 Polly Bridges high horsemanship awards and together we won the Jim Menefee High Combined score award. He also has almost 7500 competitive trail miles.
However, this horse’s skills go way beyond the awards we’ve won together. In addition to his 7500 competition miles, and thousands of conditioning miles – he has helped me clear and mark hundreds and hundreds of miles of trail. Beau and I have often gone out on our own and marked or picked up markers for entire Open trails in one day- he’s even been known to grab the low hanging ribbons for me. His trail clearing skills are also amazing. I can operate a handsaw or chainsaw from his back and he’ll brace himself to take the load of a heavy branch across his withers. Bears in the way of clearing trail? No problem, he’s had several face offs with stubborn black bears – and once a standoff with a bull elk protecting his herd. Not much fazes that horse. Beau loves to explore, he’s not one to try and head home all the time but would rather take that trail we’ve never been on or check out one we haven’t been on in a while like they were old friends.
He’s a mentor to new riders and young horses. Beau is the best babysitter on the trail, willing to go as fast or as slow as the new horse or rider needs to gain in confidence and skill- even this month he braced himself to take the blow to stop a frightened horse from running off a steep drop. Beau & I can often be found ponying another horse along the trail, sometimes it’s a horse he knows and sometimes not. He sets the rules for all of them and expects them to obey.
Beau has tens of thousands of road miles on him as well, traveling to all regions except Region 5- we ran out of time there. Every time he steps off the trailer, no matter how long the drive, he looks around with interest and willingly reloads when asked. He is the best camping horse I’ve ever traveled with. Many – many times, we have been forced to find a camp site on the side of the road or even right beside a busy train track, yet he just watches and eats. Not a big stressor that one.
So to say we took the road less traveled might not be that accurate, together we have made that road very traveled but as Robert Frost said “it’s made all the difference”