When Katie L. was a little girl, she always wanted a horse.
“She saved her birthday and Christmas money for five or six years,” says Katie’s mother Stephanie, who inspired her daughter’s love for horses and comes from a long line of riders.
When she turned 13, Katie bought her first horse, Stogie—a.k.a. “Five Cent Cigar”—a thoroughbred. The duo then teamed up for eventing, an equestrian event comparable to a triathlon that includes dressage, endurance and show jumping.
During this time, Katie boarded Stogie for five years until the family moved to a new house in St. Charles, Illinois, where they now have acreage that includes a barn and pasture. With more space, Katie, now 18, decided to get another horse.
One day, scrolling through the website of a local horse rescue organization, she spotted several horses, including Pippa, a young Appaloosa Paint Cross.
Pippa was one of 14 horses rescued by the ASPCA and the Forest County Sheriff’s Department in Crandon, Wisconsin, in March 2017, as part of a cruelty investigation that also involved 38 dogs. She was cared for by the ASPCA and then transported to an ASPCA response partner in August. It was there that Katie met and adopted the sweet horse five months later
“I fell in love with her right away,” Katie recalls. “She’s really sweet and calm for her age, and really pretty. And I wanted a horse I could start with from the beginning, so we could bond.”
The youngest of seven children, Katie learned horse management skills through her local Pony Club, part of a national organization that promotes sportsmanship, stewardship and leadership through horsemanship, and teaches the care of horses and ponies.
Pippa is not yet broken, a term that means she is not yet trained to be ridden, but Katie anticipates she’ll be easy to train and ride. Katie recently started training Pippa on a lunge line, a technique where Pippa moves around Katie in a circle on the end of long line.
“She follows me around the path, and I walk her around the neighborhood,” explains Katie. “Sometimes she freezes up or gets spooked, but I don’t think it will take her long. I think we’ll get closer the more I work with her. She’s such a nice horse.”
Katie graduated high school a year early and attends a local community college, hoping to eventually follow in her father David’s footsteps and become a pharmacist.
When she’s not at school or working at her new job as a pharmacy technician, she is caring for her horses and the family’s adopted dog, Luigi. Katie recently acquired a third horse, Chessie, an 18-year-old Quarter Horse who needed a home.
“Katie does all the work,” says Stephanie, who had horses growing up. “She is super responsible. She’s out feeding every morning at 7 A.M., and is always home by 4:30 P.M. And then at 10 P.M. she checks and feeds again.”
By Katie’s estimate, each horse eats about half a bale of hay per day. As for her personality, “Pippa is definitely the boss—she can be rough with the other horses sometimes, but they all get along,” explains Katie.
According to Stephanie, thanks to Katie, the rest of the family has fallen in love with Pippa, too.
“She’s the initiator for sure,” Stephanie says. “And it’s kind of fun for me to return to my own childhood love through Katie.”
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