Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

The Making Of The ‘Kiwi Nation’ Storybook Tale

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It all started with a palomino pinto miniature horse-Shetland stallion that captured the hearts of John and Trisha Reimers. 

“I always loved horses, always wanted them in my life,” said Trisha, Gulf Shores, Alabama. “I just saw this cute little stallion and his mom, and we had them for yard art. And he was so darling, I said, ‘I got to find a mare to breed this guy to.’ ” 

They found a mare, Abra Cadabra, and bred her to their stallion Mississippi Mango. 

“Eleven months later we have a beautiful little buckskin pony,” said John. 

They named the foal Kiwi Pirouette, and while they didn’t hold any lofty plans for her beyond companionship, the young mare showed a propensity for jumping. 

John and Trisha Reimers sponsored a series of young equestrians like Lee Kiefer to ride their pony Kiwi Pirouette. Photo Courtesy Of Francesca Senior

Though not from the hunter/jumper world, the Reimers dove into it. With no children or grandchildren of their own, they asked Madison, Mississippi, trainer Francesca Senior to find a deserving child to ride “Kiwi.” Starting in 2019, when Kiwi was 10, the Reimers fully funded one young child at a time to ride the mare, and Senior focused on teaching horsemanship to those kids. 

“They really wanted whoever the rider was to really bond with Kiwi and spend a lot of time with her, and I really wanted whichever child it was to be getting a horsemanship education at the same time as much as possible,” said Senior. “So I made it clear, they needed to know how she needed to be groomed—because they were pretty young kids when they started. They learn how to take care of her, learn how to wrap her legs, take out the braids, do the stall—all aspects.” 

And in return, Emerson Strong (rider in 2019 and 2020), Lulu Davis (2019), Arie Strong (2021), Lee Kiefer (2022 and 2023) and Reese Edwards (beginning of 2023) gained a pony and a cheering squad. Kiwi competed at USEF Pony Finals (Kentucky) in the medium greens in 2021 and the mediums in 2022 and earned accolades on the Louisiana Hunter Jumper Association and Mississippi Hunter Jumper Association circuits. The Reimers traveled to many of the horse shows, creating “Kiwi” shirts for Pony Finals and establishing the “Kiwi Nation” Facebook page for their friends to follow along. 

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“The generosity piece is just off the charts but also just their influence of wisdom and just sharing of themselves,” said Kiefer’s mother, Judith Kiefer.

Though the couple doesn’t see their generosity to these young equestrians as anything too special, Senior does.

“It gives people some hope that there is community out there,” said Senior. “I remember as a working student it was really a lot of work, and you were hoping to get a ride on a horse. It’s just nice to know that there are people like the Reimers out there that want to do this really for the love of the sport.”

The Reimers took Kiwi back to Alabama in 2023 with the hopes of breeding her. But they still keep in touch with all the friends that Kiwi added to their circle. 

“We just never dreamed that we’d have a champion pony,” said John. “We were having fun; that wasn’t our aim. So, it was kind of a big surprise to us with what we got and how much this has been an amazing experience. We love movies like ‘Secretariat’ and ‘Seabiscuit,’ and it’s kind of like we’re living one.” 


This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. You can subscribe and get online access to a digital version and then enjoy a year of The Chronicle of the Horse and our lifestyle publication, Untacked. If you’re just following COTH online, you’re missing so much great unique content. Each print issue of the Chronicle is full of in-depth competition news, fascinating features, probing looks at issues within the sports of hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage, and stunning photography.

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