You usually think of ?rookie? riders as younger, but as young as three years old?
That's how old Trey Iszler was when he won the Justin Rookie of the Year award for North Dakota in 2000. In 2005, his younger brother, Christopher, followed family tradition and won the very same award at the age of five.
?My boys, just by being in this family, have gotten into horses,? says mom Tami Iszler. Their father, Todd, has shown Quarter Horses for years in North Dakota and was the former president of the North Dakota Quarter Horse Association.
But Tami says the boys? early success is really due to some pretty special mares.
?They were different horses, but they both had the same personality,? she says.
It all started when three-year-old Trey asked Todd whether he could show Todd?s mare, Exquisite Looks, aka ?Ellie.? So Todd took his son into the parking lot for a crash course in halter.
?Ellie was a very calm, sweet and gentle giant,? Tami says. ?She was voice-command trained to set up, which helped.?
Trey entered the next youth class at that show. He ran as fast as he could to get the big 16-hand mare to trot beside him.
?To encourage the horse to trot, the ring man clapped his clipboard, which startled Ellie,? Tami recalls. ?She raised her head and neck, which in turn lifted Trey off the ground as he hung onto the shank.
?She put her head down as gently as she could, and Trey?s feet hit the dirt and kept running ? hardly missed a beat,? Tami said. The pair trotted to the ring man. Trey asked Ellie to set up, and she did it without a pause.
?I would often find Trey in Ellie?s stall hugging on her leg or scratching her,? Tami adds. ?She would stay perfectly still until she knew Trey had left.?
When little brother Christopher started showing as a five-year-old, the Iszlers went on a hunt for another gentle giant. They found one in Rocas Truly Cool, aka ?Roca.?
?Like Ellie, Roca is an incredibly quiet, gentle and calm mare,? Tami says. ?She constantly watched where Christopher?s feet were while they were walking or trotting.
?We have been truly blessed with two amazing halter youth mares!?
And two amazing kids, too!