My little pony
On Valentine's Day 2005 then 11-yearold Madeline Jones
Her mother, Jimann, didn't want her oldest child to get into horses again, but it had been her love for such a long time.
Jimann and husband Jeff made the decision to try miniature horses this time. They first thought it would be just for parades, and Jimann thought having these miniature horses would teach her daughter responsibility. In turn, it has taught the entire family so much more.
"If we had gotten a little horse first, we would have never gotten a big horse," Jimann said. "They are so personable. They want to be with you."
The now 15-year-old Madeline has been showing American Miniature Horses for four years. She has three horses to her name, the family owns 11 total.
They said Madeline showed "potential" so the youngster started showing horses for them as well.
The Milano resident's pride and joy is seven-year-old stallion Diamond Oaks Classic Cash, or Cash for short. The name came about from a former owner's love of music legend Johnny Cash.
Cash is like a pet and has even walked his way into the Jones' kitchen before from an open door on the porch, Madeline said.
This much loved horse was a love that was simply stumbled upon.
Along for the ride
Cash was spotted by the Joneses in a pasture in a rural area near Caldwell.
He was just two-years-old then and had never been touched, according to Madeline.
Madeline and Cash had a connection, deeper than owner and pet. As determined as the teenager is, she began working with the small horse immediately.
Cash is an American Miniature Horse and is registered with American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA), American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) and Pinto Horse Assocation (PtHA). He shows under the AMHR.
Minis and ponies are split into two divisions based on height. Division A is for ponies under 34 inches and B is for those 34 to 38 inches. Cash measures at 33. These smaller horses are shown from age three months to 40 years old.
Trainers begin from when they can hold the horse (sometimes as young as three years old) to octogenarians.
"Showing these animals is a commitment," Jimann Jones said.
Show seasons run from March to November and Madeline usually goes to at least one show a month. She's traveled to contests as close as Conroe and as far away as Indiana.
A normal show will have Madeline gone from Wednesday to Sunday. She was homeschooled for the last two years, making it easier to compete.
Starting last week, she began public school and is a freshman at Milano High School.
'30 day wonder'
People had said that the horse was "too ugly" and "can't be shown," according to Madeline. Well she and Cash showed them.
Most horses need 60 days training. It took Cash just one month.
" The reason Cash took such a short time is that Madeline had worked him so much at home," Jimann said. Trainer Diane Teague calls him the "30 day wonder."
At their first show together in July 2008 in San Antonio Cash won first in showmanship, along with two other first place and one second place ribbons. That class included two former national champions.
"People were running up to me saying 'you've got to put him in stakes'. I was so new to all this I had no idea what that was," Jimann said. This is a class in which the best of the best compete and includes trainers of all ages. Cash took reserve champion in that class.
The horse is now one win away from the Hall of Fame in Country Pleasure Driving in the American Horse Registry. Driving is when the horse is hooked up to a buggy and the driver has to display the horse through certain scenerios. You have to have five wins in the stakes class of this event.
It is unheard of a horse making it in the Hall in such a short amount of time. It has been just 13 months since Cash's first show.
The duo has racked up numerous ribbons and awards. Through her four years of showing, Madeline has so many ribbons and awards that all four walls of her bedroom are covered in ribbons.
With all her wins in 2008 Madeline was named the 2008 Youth of the Year for the Ameri- can Miniature Horse Registry and American Shetland Pony Club.
The awa rd wa s ga ined by accumulating the most points in shows with placings awarded.
The mother and daughter were together when they got the news over the phone.
"We were together in the truck when got I got the call on my cell," Jimann said. "I was driving down the road and just started crying. I had to hand the phone over the Madeline and then she started crying."
The somewhat shy young lady has taught herself to train and practice with the horses and is competing with others who have unlimited funds for training and other things.
She and Cash have qualified for the American Miniature Horse Registry youth national competition Sep. 9- 13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Texas duo will compete in seven youth classes: hunter, obstacle driving, halter obstacle, jumper, showmanship, versatility, country pleasure driving and roadster. There could be up to 65 contestants from around the country in one class.
There are scholarship opportunites available for Madeline through her horse showing.
She aspires to be a large animal veterinarian and hopes are to attend Texas A&M University vet school.
Mother Jimann works at A&M's large animal clinic and they have let Madeline "shadow" during the summer.
"It's been a whirl wind," Madeline says of life with horses and the showing experience. "It's one thing I want to continue to do for the rest of my life."
The whole experience has been wonderful for Madeline and she has made many people proud, including her parents, grand parents, great grandparents and her community.
"Each time she wins or her name is announced it's 'Madeline Jones of Milano, Texas,'" Jimann said. "People are starting to know where Milano is."
The little horses have had a big impact on many lives.
"It's been our ministry," Jimann said. "We want to share our horses."