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Every Horse is Good for Something

When I first bought my naturally gaited TWH Makana, Candace Rundell was one of the first friends I made with the Minnesota Walking Horse Association. How she acquired her naturally gaited Spotted Saddle Horse, Yankee Doodle Mandy, is heroing on its own. Yet it is the adversity I witnessed this duo face which exemplifies a shining example of hope, a trusting partnership, and what is possible when you persevere to never let up on your dreams.
—Jennifer Klitzke


Jazzy 2013 3 gait champions
Candace Rundell riding her naturally gaited Spotted Saddle Horse mare Yankee Doodle Mandy in one of their dozens of Country Pleasure Championship rides.

Every Horse is Good for Something

By Candace Rundell, Guest Writer

I’ve been horse crazy as long as I can remember and owned my first horse at the age of 9. Gaming and trail riding on the bouncy variety were my gig until I became acquainted with a naturally smooth gaited Spotted Saddle Horse in an unexpected way.

In 2003, my sister and I went to an auction, and I was drawn to a 1993 black and white Tobiano Spotted Saddle Horse mare named Yankee Doodle Mandy (Jazzy). After talking with the seller, I tested out Jazzy’s naturally smooth gait. I liked her a lot, only I didn’t come to the auction to buy. I wasn’t in a place to take on a horse.

When the auction began, my sister and I noticed that not all of the horses were getting sold to good homes. We were sickened to learn that the horses no one bid on were being sold to the “kill buyer.”

Just as my sister and I were ready to leave, Jazzy’s owner caught up to us and said that no one had bid on her. The owner explained that she was pregnant and had promised her husband that she wouldn’t return home with the horse. I saw her husband anxiously waiting by their rig and ready to get going. The woman said in a panic, “It’s either you or the “kill buyer.”

My sister reached into her purse and wrote out a check for $600, and that’s how my first gaited horse entered my life.

“Every horse is good for something.”

Although Jazzy had a smooth ride, we were off to a rocky start. She was rather wild and used to charge at me which gave me quite a scare. After we overcame that hurdle, it took 45 minutes to saddle her and another 45 minutes to get on her back.

Remembering what Seabiscuit’s trainer, Tom Smith once said, “Every horse is good for something,” I set out to become educated about naturally gaited horses and the Spotted Saddle Horse breed. I joined the Minnesota Walking Horse Association (MWHA) and began attending clinics.

Slowly over time Jazzy and I developed a trusting bond, and she blossomed into a wonderfully reliable trail mount. In 2004, Jazzy and I became the MWHA Adult Trail Riding Reserve Champion.

barrels
Gaming the gaited horse.

Back in my younger years when I rode trotting horses, I gamed a lot. So in 2006, I entered Jazzy at a local show which offered two-gait game classes. That year we won the 2006 WSCA Free Spirit Riders Spring Fun Payday Walk Trot (two gait) High Point.

Then Jazzy and I rode at a MWHA sponsored B.L.E.S.S. your gaited horse clinic with Bucky Sparks. At this clinic those who watched our rides encouraged me to give gaited breed shows a try. Up until that point showing Jazzy in rail classes had never occurred to me.

gaited horse cantering
Despite the set back of Jazzy losing an eye in February 2010, Candace and Jazzy’s amazing partnership of trust developed their canter before traveling to the Nationals in Missouri.

So in 2009, I began showing Jazzy at gaited breed shows. To my surprise and delight, Jazzy earned Champion in Country Pleasure Amateur Owned and Trained 2 Gait, Reserve Champion Country Pleasure English 2 Gait, Reserve Champion Country Pleasure Western 2 Gait at the MWHA Celebration Show, and we became the 2009 MWHA Trail Riding Champion.

Looking ahead to 2010, I set a goal for Jazzy and I to develop our canter and travel to Missouri for the North American Pleasure Horse Championships.

Before the 2010 show season began, Jazzy sustained a serious eye injury in the pasture. I was devastated to learn that she would lose her eye. During the surgery, Jazzy developed atrial fibrillation from the anesthesia which caused a permanent irregular heartbeat. I feared that she wouldn’t be ride-able again, or worse, that I’d have to put her down.

“You know, you don’t throw a whole life away just ’cause he’s banged up a little.”

Thankfully Jazzy recovered from surgery quickly, and my confidence grew when I began riding Jazzy and discovered that she had become even more responsive and wiling than when she had two eyes!

Seabiscuit’s trainer, Tom Smith once said, “You know, you don’t throw a whole life away just ’cause he’s banged up a little.So just two months after surgery, I took Jazzy to a cutting horse clinic. Not only was she the only one-eyed horse at the clinic, but she was the only gaited horse, and the clinician used her as the demonstration horse because of how soft and responsive she was.

Losing an eye didn’t stop us from pursuing our goals and reaching our dreams. Jazzy and I went on to a stellar 2010 show season. Jazzy earned Champion Country Pleasure English 2 Gait and Champion Country Pleasure Western 2 Gait at the 2010 MWHA Celebration Show before traveling to the North American Pleasure Horse Championships in Missouri to be crowned with a National SSH 3 Gait Grand Championship!

2010 National Grand Champion
Candace Rundell riding Yankee Doodle Mandy at the North American Pleasure Horse Championships in Missouri where the team earned a National SSH 3 Gait Grand Championship the same year after Jazzy lost her eye.

Since 2010, Jazzy and I have gone on to become an ambassador for naturally gaited horses and the Spotted Saddle Horse breed. Jazzy has participated in parades, mounted shooting, cattle work, English and western rail classes, reining, games, speed events, trail trials, and has been a flag bearer. Not only that, but Jazzy is an easy keeper and in good weight—even in the harshest of winters. She has GREAT feet, too, and has never needed shoes.

Gaited horse and trail obstacles
Candace Rundell and her naturally gaited Spotted Saddle Horse mare Yankee Doodle Mandy negotiating a trail obstacle.

As Jazzy turned 22 this year she will retire to a life of trail riding for others who want to come and ride with me as I train and show my other naturally gaited Spotted Saddle Horses.

Indeed, every horse is good for something. I am so glad that I pressed on through the rough beginning to experience the partnership Jazzy and I have developed and all we have accomplished together—even after losing an eye.


Candace Rundell and Yankee Doodle Mandy’s Impressive Show Record
2004 MWHA Adult Trail Riding Reserve Champion
2006 WSCA Free Spirit Riders Spring Fun Payday Walk Trot (2 Gait) High Point
2009 MWHA Celebration Champion Country Pleasure Amateur Owned and Trained 2 Gait
2009 MWHA Celebration Reserve Champion Country Pleasure English 2 Gait
2009 MWHA Celebration Reserve Champion Country Pleasure Western 2 Gait
2009 MWHA Trail Riding Champion
2010 MWHA Celebration Champion Country Pleasure English 2 Gait
2010 MWHA Celebration Champion Country Pleasure Western 2 Gait

2010 North American Pleasure Horse Championships, Sedalia, MO

  • Spotted Saddle Horse Western 3 Gait Grand Champion
  • Spotted Saddle Horse Western 2 Gait Reserve Champion
  • Spotted Saddle Horse Youth Reserve Champion
  • Hi 7 Reserve Champion
  • Spotted Saddle Horse Division Champion with 88 points

2010 AHAGN OSIP Pleasure/Performance Champion
2010 AHAGN OSIP Game Champion
2010 MWHA Country Pleasure Champion
2011 SSLCF Walk Trot (2 Gait) High Point
2011 MWHA MN Celebration 3 Gait Country Pleasure Champion
2011 MWHA MN Celebration Youth Country Pleasure Champion
2011 MWHA Country Pleasure 2 Gait High Point Champion
2011 MWHA Country Pleasure 3 Gait High Point Champion
2011 MWHA Country Pleasure Youth High Point Reserve Champion
2011 AHAGN OSIP Pleasure/Performance Champion
2012 Kutaways Spring Payday Senior High Point
2012 Countryside Saddle Club Spring Show Senior Plus Pleasure High Point
2012 MWHA MN Celebration Country Pleasure 3 Gait Reserve Champion
2012 SSLCF Walk Trot (2 Gait) High Point
2012 Northwood’s Saddle Club INC Pleasure Reserve Champion
2012 Northwood’s Saddle Club INC All Around Champion

2012 SSHBEA OIP

  • Adult Champion
  • Western Horsemanship Champion
  • Reining Champion
  • Stock/Ranch Champion
  • Western Pleasure Champion
  • English Pleasure Champion

2012 AHAGN OSIP Pleasure/Performance Champion
2012 AHAGN OSIP Game Champion

2012 Minnesota Walking Horse Association

  • 2 gait Country Pleasure Reserve Champion
  • 3 gait Country Pleasure Champion

2012 MWHA Horse of the Year
2013 SSLCF Pleasure / Performance High Point
2013 MWHA MN Celebration ADP 3 Gait Champion
2013 DFA Summer show 35+ Pleasure High Point
2013 Brew City Classic Charity Show ADP 3 Gait Reserve Champion
2013 ASCA All Around Pleasure Reserve Champion
2013 ASCA English Pleasure Reserve Champion
2013 ASCA English Equitation Reserve Champion
2013 DFA 35+ Game Champion
2013 DFA 35+ Pleasure Champion
2013 Tri-State 3 Gait Country Pleasure Champion
2013 MWHA Country Pleasure 3 Gait Champion

2013 SSHBEA OIP Adult Overall Champion

  • Gymkhana Champion
  • Saddle Seat Champion
  • Equitation champion
  • Trail Obstacle Champion
  • Reigning Champion

2014 SSLCF Pleasure Reserve High Point
2014 Mn Celebration Champion English ADP 3 Gait
2014 MN Celebration ADP West 3 Gait Champion
2014 Brew City Classic ADP 3 Gait Reserve Champion
2014 Tri-State ADP English 3 Gait  Champion
2014 Tri-State ADP Western 3 Gait Champion
2014 Tri-State Model Reserve Champion
2014 DFA Senior Plus Pleasure Champion

2014 SSHBEA OIP Adult Overall Champion

  • Gymkhana Champion
  • English Pleasure Champion
  • English Equitation Champion
  • Western Pleasure  Champion
  • Western Horsemanship Champion
  • Trail Obstacle Champion
  • Reigning Champion

2014 Tri-State Horse of the Year
2014 MWHA Reserve Champion Model, Champion
ADP 3 Gait, Champion Versatility
2015 Free Spirit Riders Spring High Point
2015 DFA Spring Reserve High point Pleasure
2015 DFA Spring Reserve High point games
2015 SSLCF Reserve High Point Pleasure
2015 MWHA MN Celebration ADP 2 Gait Reserve Champion
2015 MWHA MN Celebration ADP 3 Gait Champion
2015 DFA Summer High Point Pleasure
2015 WSCA DFA Buckle Series Reserve Champion High Point Pleasure
2015 WSCA DFA Buckle Series 3rd High Point Games
2015 Brew City Classic ADP 3 Gait Western Reserve Champion
2015 Brew City Classic SSH 2 Gait Western Reserve Champion
2015 Brew City Classic ADP 3 Gait English  Reserve Champion
2015 Brew City Classic AOT 2 Gait  Reserve  Champion
2015 Tri-State All Day Pleasure Amateur 3 Gait
2015 Tri-State All Day Pleasure Western 3 Gait
2015  SSHBEA OIP Overall Adult Champion Candace Rundell

2015 SSHBEA OIP Champion Yankee Doodle Mandy

  • Gymkhana
  • Trail
  • English  Pleasure
  • English  Equitation
  • Western  Pleasure
  • Western  Horsemanship
  • Halter
  • Showmanship

Qualified for WSCA Champ Show 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015

Candace Rundell Yankee Doodle Mandy and Bo's Whistling Dixie
Candace Rundell pictured with naturally gaited Spotted Saddle Horses Yankee Doodle Mandy (left) and Bo’s Whistling Dixie (right).

Candace Rundell and her husband own The Last Resort Farm in Brookston, MN where they rescue, breed, raise and train Spotted Saddle Horses. Candace is a SSHBEA Certified Inspector and SSHBEA Outreach Incentive Program Chair.


I hope you enjoyed reading Candace’s story about her partnership with her versatile Spotted Saddle Horse mare Yankee Doodle Mandy. If you have a naturally gaited horse you’ve developed a special relationship with and ride gaited dressage or versatility, and would like to share your story on NaturallyGaited.com, please contact me by completing the contact form. —Jennifer Klitzke

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