Chiron Quarter Horse Farm works to match people and horses
WALNUT SHADE, MO. – Visiting the Chiron Quarter Horse Farm offers the sights and sounds common to most rural Mo., homesteads. In Greek Mythology, Chiron was the wisest and most just if not most human of all centaurs. Imbued with superior knowledge of medicine, music and archery skills among a long list of superior abilities, Chiron was the mythological mentor and trainer of Achilles and Hercules, Ajax, Jason, Perseus and Aeneas among others.
“We chose Chiron as a symbol for our farm because we hope to impart our own wisdom through our training program, but more importantly, we want our horses to provide us with their wisdom as well. In terms of our rescue program, our greatest hope is to provide healing to the horses that come into our care as they heal us in so many different ways,” stated Nicole Schupp, who along with husband Mitch own the Chiron Quarter Horse Farm.
The Chiron Quarter Horse farm has three Quarter Horses that are part of their breeding program.
Mitch noted Chiron began as a Quarter Horse breeding program. Both Mitch and Nicole talked vividly about the Quarter Horse as “America’s breed” and their love of them for what “fantastic all around animals” they are. But when their passion for rescue horses developed they began to save other breeds as well.
“They’re like people, ya know. It doesn’t matter what color they are, or what size they are. We don’t discriminate,” said Mitch.
Growing up outside of Chicago, Nicole never believed her dreams of owning a place where she could raise horses would ever come true. And then she met Mitch. After she tragically and suddenly lost her “heart horse,” reflected Nicole. “I really was not ready for another horse.”
After a time, Nicole was able to deal with her loss. The long story short, said Nicole, was one day as she contemplated the state of affairs of the “family horse” community.
“I got real emotional,” she said. “I wanted another horse. But…” remembered Nicole, and that’s a very important ‘but’ in gaining a real understanding of the why and how Mitch and Nicole became inspired to establish Chiron Quarter Horses.
“The process of a horse is tough,” said Nicole.
“It’s hard to trust people,” Nichole said of finding her next horse. “I was going to be kind of picky.”
While working through that “picky” process Nicole became more aware of the people rescuing horses,
“So, I started looking into that,” she said.
In her research, Nicole she came across how, “these two gals managed to get in with a buyer at a kill pen in Kansas.” That person allowed the ladies to buy a certain number of horses from him for the price he would get selling them for slaughter. The ladies posted weekly about the horses they rescued on social media to try and find them new owners.
“We get theses horses and they’re sick and they may not make it,” Mitch said. “And some don’t. The only chance these horses have in life is…we get that horse home. Train it. And give it a second chance.”
Mitch and Nicole became dedicated to spending the necessary time to get their charges healthy and trained to be solid family horses.
Mitch related the reality was as their family began to grow he and Nicole naturally began to consider their world differently. The result was that when they decided it was time to grow the farm. Along with considering what growing their family farm meant they began to really focus on the idea of family-friendly horses.
“People were tired of not knowing what they were getting,” Mitch said. “They don’t even know how (to get the right horse).”
It was through the process of training, and learning, and doing more and more and more to explore just exactly what people’s needs were that Nicole and Mitch saw horse rescues were a means to an end, and indeed a very different end for many good horses.
People have called Chiron asking about horse availability only to be told the horses currently under Chiron care and in training may not be ready for some time.
The Chiron ethic is to get the rescued animals perfectly healthy before their training regimens begin.
And there are a lot of activities the Schupps do to prepare for and acclimate the horses to human attention well before they begin to work them under a saddle.
“They get a lot of baths,” noted Mitch. They get brushed and their feet are handled.
“Just taking them for a walk,” added Nicole. “There’s something about rescue animals. They just know.” She said rescued horses have a sense of what has happened to them. “We can’t rescue all of them, and I wish we could.”
Their knowledge about how to horse came from a lifetime of, “absorbing everything around me,” said Mitch.
“As a horseman you should always be learning.” Mitch emphasized that all horse owners need to learn constantly and to think of building a relationship with their horses. “Everybody should be a horse trainer. Learn. Keep learning. Watch every video you can. Talk to every old timer you can. Absorb everything. People in the horse world are the most helpful people in the world.
At Chiron, they work to train the family-friendly, bombproof horse to do whatever the rider, regardless of their age, wants the horse to do.
“A bombproof horse can be soft, but should respond to every cue you give it. Whether you want it to back up or go forward. Or if you want it to flex real gently.” Mitch explained as he used light touches of the reins and hand signals to demonstrate those behaviors with the paint Woody, “I really teach light to the touch.”
“I want my kids to be able to go around the horse,” Nicole said. “They should be able to go under the horse. They should be able to grab their tails. They should be able to run around screaming.”
“When a horse leaves this barn,” Mitch added, reiterating how important it is for people to keep learning and training. “I them to keep training that horse,” he emphasized. “Get in tune with that horse,” Mitch declared.
Mitch and Nicole also talked about the lessons in life one gets from horsemanship. “It’s definitely a way of life,” Mitch said. “You can learn a lot by doing this. You can learn a lot about yourself by doing this. I’ve learned to be a better parent by doing this.” And as Mitch intimated, the positive learning process experienced through horsemanship goes for other family members as well.
“Everybody needs connections. We need (connections) for our soul,” he said. “When our 9-year-old daughter is behind a computer she’s a different person. When she comes (out to the barn and the pastures) for a day with these horses, she’s so gentle, and she’s so happy. You can tell that she’s at peace.”
The ongoing Chiron business plan is to acquire more rescues, get them healthy again and to keep training. “And hopefully that’s the way life keeps going,” Mitch said. And as far as the future of Chiron Quarter Horse Farm Mitch projected, “Well our philosophy has evolved, and we’ve learned, and hopefully we’ll continue to get better at this, and try to find forever homes for everybody.”
And that idea of saving the rescued horses forever by ensuring that they are great all around family horses is the mission of the Chiron owners.
“We’re not heroes. We’re nothing special. We’re just people who really like horses,” Nicole said.