Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tom Sandmeyer, Equestrian

Pages from Billy and Blaze, A Boy and His Horse by C. W. Anderson

Meet Tom Sandmeyer, a horseman from Saint James, Minnesota, USA. Tom loves his horses, caring for several horse breeds for fun, his family, and companionship. He likes to take his two mini horses for quiet walks; the world would be a better place if everyone could take a daily walk with a mini <3....

Tom's mini horses - Dusty and Trigger

Tom expounds, "I am a horse lover and have been most of my life. I help to care for five horses that we stable at my sisters farm in Saint James, Minnesota. My sister, her husband, my mother, my daughter, my wife, and myself work with the horses when we can and enjoy them a lot.  We have an assortment of different breeds and sizes of horses on the farm. My mother is the one that got all of us interested in horses, she had horses when she was younger, but when she got married and started having children she could no longer care for the horses and had to get rid of them. She and my dad purchased a horse about five or six years ago and stabled it at my sisters farm. It was a dream come true for her, but shortly after getting the horse my dad found out that he had cancer. We lost my dad do to a stroke while recovering from the surgery to remove his cancer. It was a sad time for all of us but I think the horses played a large part in my mother’s healing process. Now she mostly just cares for them and no longer rides. We have enjoyed our horses for many years and hope to enjoy them for many to come. My daughter has been hooked from the time she was able to get on them, she even won a trip to the Minnesota State Fair last year for a display that she had done for school on equine therapy; she won a first place ribbon."  

Welcome Tom!

When was your first encounter with a horse?

I would have to say that the first time I rode a horse was when I was quite young 4 or 5 years old, our landlord’s son had his own horse that he would bring over and he would give us rides. I don't remember for sure what the breed of the horse was but I do remember wishing I the ride would never end.  

Do you have a favorite horse breed?

I can’t say that I have a favorite breed because I really like all breeds, if I had to choose and money wasn’t an issue it would have to be the Friesian breed. This breed is native to the Netherlands, originally they were bred as draft horses, but because of their nimbleness, they were used in battle during the middle ages. The size of the horse alone is impressive but I just love the way the horse carry’s itself.

What horses do you currently stable?

The horses that we currently have are a mixed group, we have one Palomino Quarter Horse (Golden Cloud), one Welsh pony (Stormy), two miniature horses (Dusty and Trigger) - I’m not sure of their breed; and my brother in-law’s horse is a Quarter Horse (Buttermilk). I can say the disposition of the two larger horses is very laid back; I would be afraid to let anyone ride them. Stormy was a rescue that we took in from a family that no longer wanted her.  She has a strong mind and feels like she is in charge, but she is very gentle. My daughter broke her for riding and then we taught her to pull a cart. Pulling a cart was a dream of my mother’s because she had just turned 70 and she just didn’t feel safe getting on and off the horses anymore, so driving the cart lets her still enjoy riding. The two mini horses are mostly for fun, they just eat for the most part but we take them out for walks on and off, we have talked about training them for a cart but just haven’t had the time.    

Do you have a favorite horse show event?

To be honest I don’t get to many shows, we do have something called the Cowboy Challenge that is put on in the I-90 Expo Center in Sherburn, Minnesota, and I have attended that a couple times.  I can say that it is a lot of fun and is great family entertainment, they run it kind of like a rodeo but it’s not a real rodeo. I enjoy going to that and the tack sale that they have at the I-90, they have great deals and you never know what they will be selling. I was able to buy my daughter a brand new Weaver saddle for $120.00, I have to say it was a good deal.  

Do you ride often?

I haven’t ridden in close to a year. My daughter is the one in the family that does most of the riding, she tries to ride at least once a week if her job allows. I just run very short of time and that kills my riding so the best I can do is just brush them out and take them out walking on and off. My mother is over with the horses everyday brushing and spending time with them so they get a lot of attention.

Where do you like to ride?

I would have to say the best ride I have ever taken was out in Montana, we were staying out by Jackson Hole and booked a ride with a locale stable. I can’t tell you the name anymore but the horses they had were great horses, they were well trained but they weren’t the kind of trail horses that you just sit on and do nothing. The horse needed to be controlled, but very well behaved; we took about a 4 hour ride up into the mountains, it was a blast.  I can say that I will never forget how peaceful it was when we rode out of the tree line and to the top of the mountain. I can remember thinking how beautiful it was and the top of the mountain was covered with small sun flowers, I would say - with the horses and the flowers and the cool breeze blowing – it was the best ride I could ever want.       

Do you have a favorite equine writer/story?

The story that I can remember is a book called Billy and Blaze - A boy and His Horse.  I remember checking this book out of the library many times when I was a kid, it's a series of stories and I think the writer was C.W. Anderson. I guess if I was going to recommend a series of books this would be the one, it’s written more for kids, but I believe adults would enjoy it just as much.

Any advice for beginning riders?

The only advice I would have to give is to do a lot of reading before you get into the hobby, learn about the horses and what it requires to keep a horse and most of all get with a trainer that can teach you the correct way to ride and work around horses. People take them for granted because they are gentle most of the time but they don’t understand that horses are afraid of almost everything and the even the best trained horse can panic and being as strong as they are they can badly hurt or kill you very easy.  

What does horsemanship mean to you?

I would say that horsemanship to me means loving the hobby and loving the horses, you don’t have to be a cowboy or a pro rider, you just need to enjoy the horse and treat them well and the horse will enjoy you. People need to know that horses need to trust the people that ride them as much as the people need to trust the horse they ride.

Connect with Tom

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