BY JOHN GRONES
The Riverside Drifters Saddle Club welcomes new members – the Niemis, Alex Shelton and Jordan Wagner
After going to many of the horse shows in Cromwell, Alex Shelton and her father Jordan Wagner became new members of the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club. “We wanted to give back to the club for putting on all the shows,” said Alex who joined the club in April.
Alex has been interested in horses since she was eight years old. “I had a quarter horse named Jasper that I started showing three years ago,” Alex noted. “He died last year after cutting his leg on some barbed wire.”
More recently, Alex has started training her new Arabian, Lady. “The horse has been trail ridden,” said Alex. “This will be her first year of game, and it will take a while to get used to it.”
Alex trains at the horse arena in Cromwell. Alex added that her father plans on participating in the shows also. The two plan on attending all the Cromwell shows and possibly participate in Proctor, Superior, and the Twin Cities.
Training will be very important this year. Alex is committed to getting her horse to trust her. “The key is to use consistent leg movements and cues. I learned it is important to keep the horse under control.”
Alex concluded that her favorite game events are poles and barrels. She will participate in the junior division this year at all shows.
First year member Julianne Niemi recently joined the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club with her parents, David and Marianne. Marianne shared that Julianne asked for her first horse when she was four years old.
“I got one when I was nine,” said Julianne who began competing with her horse last year.
Julianne shared that she loves it, “and I will always stick with it,” said Julianne. “I started out riding my dad’s horse, and now we have six horses – Arizona, Silver, Bart (Donkey), Savannah, Barney and Ceasar.”
Julianne is also involved with the Carlton County Horse Project (CCHP). Between the Riverside Drifters and CCHP, Julianne will be very busy this summer. “The summer calendar is filling up fast,” shared David, her father. “She’s raising her own money this summer to pay for her involvement.”
Julianne hopes to participate in all the shows in Cromwell and the Barnum fair. Julianne will compete in the junior class one more year. “My favorite events are barrels and the pennant race,” she said, “and I’m really good at egg and spoon.”
Julianne noted that the key to egg and spoon is not to focus on the egg. “Focus on where you are going,” she explained. Julianne also feels her quick hands areperfect for the Pennant Race. Last year, she competed the race in eight seconds.
In addition to working with horses, Julianne also participates in basketball and volleyball at Carlton High School.
Dan Richards has been a member of the Riverside Drifters since October 2007. Dan joined because he was new to horses and wanted to learn more about them. Saddle Club secretary Holly Swanstrom motivated him and told him it would be a good experience for him to not only ride on the trails but to see how it was at some fun shows.
Dan mostly enjoys the trail riding, but he lost his horse Rock last summer due to injuries. The horse was unable to be ridden or even stand for long periods of time, so a tough decision was made to lay Rock to rest. “We know he is running in greener pastures,” said Holly.
Dan and Holly live on RT Farms. The farm consists of a couple of horses, a steer, a few pigs and two dogs. “I couldn’t talk Dan into sheep and goats, but he was ok with getting chickens,” said Holly. “We are down to only one horse now, but in the future we will be getting more animals again.”
Holly Swanstrom has been a horse enthusiast forever. She has had one horse (Baby) since she was 15. “We got her in Texas and brought her here to Minnesota,” said Holly.
Holly shared that the activity she likes most is show jumping. “It is something you don’t see much of up this way,” she concluded. “Horses are beautiful and majestic animals in all aspects.”
Holly has a son, Andrew Swanstrom, who has been a club member since October of 2006. He has been riding since he was five years old. Andrew enjoys trail riding the most. He likes to help out with chores, and he also helps out at the shows.
The Hakamaki family – Scott, Janelle, Shaily and NataLee recently joined the Riverside Drifters.
Shaily shared that she has a pony named Dustee. It was a surpise present last spring.
Dustee is from New Prague. The Shetland Pony came from a family of seven and is perfect for the Hakamaki family. “She is nice and friendly,” said Shaily who is in kindergarten at Cromwell School this year. “I brush her and talk to her.”
After brushing, Shaily will often treat Dustee with carrots, apples or horse treats.
Shaily participated in a saddle club horse show last year with her mom. “I rode Mack last year,” said Shaily.
Shaily shared that she will be participating again this year. She will most likely participate in lead line events with Dustee and Mack.
When asked if she might also participate in the shows, Shaily’s younger sister NataLee said, “Maybe.”
Janelle noted that Dustee has been a great pony for the girls. “She has really warmed up to the girls,” she said. “She is blind in one eye.”