By Frank J. Buchman
“I’m not a miracle worker.”
Working with a group of horse handlers during a recent clinic in Manhattan, Missy Hood clarified that statement with one student seeking horsemanship assistance.
“A horse can’t be expected to learn something instantly. It takes time, consistency and patience,” insisted Hood, a lifelong horsewoman.
“Like people, all horses are different, and what one horse does readily, another one takes longer,” continued the trainer-clinician.
“A horse has the ability to do many things,” Hood added. “Yet, certain horses bred for one discipline typically will not excel at other endeavors to the ability for which they’re bred.
“There are exceptions, and a few all-around horses do well in a number of events. But, it’s difficult for a winning cutting horse to be a top-level fence horse,” according to the world champion, successful in several divisions.
Now living and training horses and horse people at Topeka, Hood emphatically clarified to the group hosted by the Blackjack Saddle Club: “I don’t sugarcoat what I see in and think about horses, or the ones working with them.
“Horses should be happy and enjoy what they’re doing. People working with horses should be having fun, learning and helping, whenever they’re handling these great animals,” Hood said.
“If it’s not enjoyable for the horse and handler, something’s wrong,” the knowledgeable horsewoman stated.
A city kid in Des Moines, Iowa, Hood said, “I started riding when I was five or six, at a boarding stable. But, then my parents bought a five-acre place, making it easier to work with horses whenever I wanted.”
The best memory for Hood was her first horse, a black and white Welsh pony named Susie. “My dad bought Susie with saddle and bridle for $52.50, at the local Friday night auction ,” Hood remembered. “That pony gave me a great foundation in how to use patience at a young age.”
It was beginning for a career with horses throughout the country and the world. “I competed in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Youth Division, and knew early I wanted to work with horses,” Hood said.
Completing a successful youth career including national titles, Hood then became a professional trainer. “Back in the ’80s, it was mostly Western pleasure, and halter, so that’s what we concentrated on,” Hood noted
“When an opportunity became available to train and give riding lessons in Germany, I worked there for three years,” Hood said. “It was during that time I discovered how to get more from myself as a trainer.”
Upon returning to the states, Hood changed directions and managed a horse breeding farm. “I decided to take a break from competition, and worked with the breeding end of the business for several years,” she said.
Riding and showing remained closest to Hood’s heart. “The chance came for me to ride my first reining horse in 2005,” Hood said. “Since I had not trained or shown professionally for the required time, I began reining extensively in AQHA amateur classes and the non-pro division of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).
Climax came with two AQHA Select World Championships in reining and collecting $50,000 in NRHA events.
Transition came again when Hood tried non-horse-related work for a time. But, requests for her to train horses and horse people demanded return to the profession. “I moved to Topeka in 2012, and love it here,” she said.
However, Hood admitted, “Age has a way of knocking at your door, a little louder each day. I had a knee replaced late in 2014
“Lifestyle has changed somewhat, but my passion for horses will always stay the same,” Hood vowed.
Now at Greystone Ranch, Hood still has her sorrel world champion reining stallion, Watch This Way, affectionately known as Red.
“It’s a private location, but I give lessons and host clinics, as well as present horsemanship workshops around the area,” Hood noted.
Additionally, the horsewoman is an enthusiastic photographer, operating Red Horse Images, named after her stallion, often ridden for photo-taking excursions.
Of course, Hood likes to photograph horses, but her shutter snaps anything that appreciatively moves into the lens.
“Whatever catches my eye, I take special pleasure in coming up with an interesting composition capturing expression and emotion,” said the horsewoman-photographer.
Endeavors have found considerable buyer appeal enhancing optimism for Red Horse Images’ expansion.
Hood aired concern about directions trainers and exhibitors take to be winners. “Horses should move naturally, so they enjoy it, and those on their back are having a good time. It becomes a horse and rider partnership that develops from commitment, time and patience,” Hood reiterated.
Engaged to be married, with a new home purchased, Hood positively, pleasantly concedes: “My life with horses has taken a number of turns. I feel I’m walking through the door that God chose to open for me.”