“Whisper the Clue” - ACTHA Rider Betsi Bixby achieves Gold Medal status with her 2nd AQHA mare

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It was the nightmare no horse owner ever wants to experience. Coming home to feed my gorgeous and beloved AQHA Platinum Medal winning mare, Boston’s DeeDee, I found her rolling in agony on the ground.

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It wasn’t until I approached and that I saw the large hole in her side, so big and so deep that her intestines were bulging out. The vet finally arrived and my sweet buckskin girl is now galloping in heaven.

With a faith as strong as a rock, I knew despite my almost unbearable grief that God was going to bring me another wonderful horse. Through the tears after the burial, I prepared my wish list which of course included the ever important ACTHA trail ready, gorgeous color, smooth gaited, and something about 14.2 would be just right. I was ready to go find my next mare.

One of my first calls was to an ACTHA rider I had always respected who knew many horse people in the area, thinking he might know a great trail horse for sale. When he asked who was looking and I told him what had happened, he said, “how about Whisper!” I was shocked. This was his pretty AQHA mare he raised from a baby. “You would sell Whisper?” I replied. His answer … only to you. I had always admired this mare and their team performance, but with that said she was really tall and red, not what was on my list! But oh my goodness, how could I not go try her!

I went for a test ride. She was definitely not as smooth as I wanted and at 15.3, wayyyyy taller than I wanted. So I left a little disheartened and proceeded to ride a bunch of other horses, but Whisper stayed on my mind. Ron, her owner had told me he was going on vacation, and I was beginning to have a brainstorm. There was an ACTHA CTC coming up that next weekend. What if I brought Whisper to my barn, did a little riding through the week, showed her on Saturday, and then I would make a final decision. He was all for it and said take her and just bring her back.

Much to my delight, with just one practice ride during the week due to my crazy work schedule, Whisper the Clue and I placed a respectable 5th in Open. She wasn’t perfect, and certainly we needed to figure each other out, but she was really growing on me despite her choppy stride.

Next was a vet exam where I discovered she had some problems. The vet said there had been some chronic lameness. It appeared to be all hoof related. Next was an inspection by my farrier who thought her problems which now were full blown quarter cracks were all due to improper trim angles. He said with good shoeing and some patience she’d be fine.

Decision made, I bought Whisper. After a few of months off while we worked through feet issues, my first ride I was gleeful to find out with the right trimming and shoeing, the horse I thought wasn’t all that smooth was delightful! A sweet jog, and a rocking horse canter. Ahhhhh.

Next was getting back to ACTHA of course. Another glee moment as at her first AOC she scored a blue! Later after more rides, when we achieved the coveted Silver Elite, I presented her former owner Ron with the buckle. After all, I already had a buckle from DeeDee and he had done all the wonderful training that allowed her to achieve that award. He was tickled and grateful.

Then, this past weekend, she scored her 150th point, winning her Gold Medal and this despite all her time off, all my time off from job travel, and hosting several rides myself each year. I don’t know if I am the first ACTHA rider to achieve Gold with two different horses, but I can tell you I was absolutely delighted to achieve that next step.

More importantly, Whisper the Clue, now proudly one of ACTHA’s Gold Medal horses and OPEN division competitor, spends many of her weekends healing hearts and strengthening courage in the Freedom Horses program which links volunteer horse owners with survivors of domestic abuse. She has proven herself absolutely reliable no matter how novice the rider.

In conclusion, thank you ACTHA for providing a venue that not only rescues horses, it rescues people. I have often told close friends that my first mare DeeDee and ACTHA kept me sane through the recession that hit my business hard and my subsequent tough divorce. Now Whisper and ACTHA give me joy and allow me to give back. Thank you so much.

With the tough and talented Texas Open competitors who ride far more frequently than I can, it may be a long road to Platinum, but that is my next goal. I hope the next time you read about Whisper the Clue, it will be because she achieved Platinum!

Happy Trails!

Betsi Bixby, proud owner of Whisper the Clue

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