A horseless Courtney Coulter spent more than a year searching for the perfect project, but her patience paid off when she stumbled upon Onslow, the pasture pony.
Coulter, 22, of Tulsa, Okla., rides at McKenzie Stables with Laureen McKenzie. In the interim, Coulter had been riding Elizabeth Nellis’ horse, Willy Behave in the adult amateur, 18-35, division at occasional “A” and “AA-rated” shows in, and close to Tulsa.
Coulter began her horse hunt in Tulsa and the surrounding area in 2008, but she couldn’t find a project that fit all her criteria. She had a strict budget, as she is a college student attending a private university and is responsible for her own horse bills.
After trying horses from various trainers, McKenzie told Coulter about a horse living on a farm next door to McKenzie Stables.
“The neighbor at the barn had been bugging Laureen to come up and look at ‘grey horse’ because he thought ‘grey horse’ had a cute trot. Gene [the neighbor] didn’t have use for ‘grey horse,’ as he got too nervous to be a roping horse. Laureen looked at him and decided he was surprisingly pretty cute,” recalled Coulter.
That week, Coulter rode the Quarter Horse gelding every day. She would drive up the road to tack him up in his barn, then trail ride him to McKenzie stables to have a lesson.
“Every day that week he learned a little more and was never rude or scary. He was broke to ride, but he didn’t steer very well,” said Coulter.
Manners were essential, but Coulter found, to her surprise, that she might just have found a horse with talents that went above and beyond good manners. “He didn’t have a right lead at all! His left lead, however, could rival that of any of the hunters currently in the barn,” she said.
On Jan. 7, 2009, after sailing through his pre-purchase veterinary exam, Coulter purchased Onslow for a mere $750. She changed his name from “Keeping Up Appearances” and got right to work with him.
Coulter found that her project continued to surprise her in a good way. “My favorite thing about him has been that even green, he is always the same even if I don’t ride him very often. He falls asleep whenever possible, which is completely unlike anything I have had before. He is just so fun to be around. Thankfully every chance I get to ride him he is fun, sound and well behaved,” she said.
This year, along with being a student at the University of Tulsa, Coulter has worked three jobs in order to pay for Onslow’s pasture board and lessons at McKenzie Stables, but it’s been worth it.
Onslow’s success at the Tulsa Classic horse show, held April 28-May 2, far exceeded Coulter’s expectations. He spent the week prior to the show (during the GO Tulsa Spring) schooling, and McKenzie and Coulter decided he was ready to show at the Tulsa Classic.
“On Wednesday of the Tulsa Classic, Laureen won the second baby green hunter round with a score of 81. I rode him in the hack and won out of 10. I could not have dreamt of a better day,” said Coulter.
Her fairytale horse show wasn’t over yet. The next day, Coulter and McKenzie determined that following his super performance with McKenzie in the irons, Coulter should show him. She did, and he once again exceeded all expectations.
“To my surprise he acquired a nearly auto right to left change (out of nowhere!) and was landing on his right. I won a class!” said Coulter.
Onslow’s consistent performance paid off, and he earned the champion tricolor in the baby green hunter division.