Enumclaw woman finishes mini-horse career with top honors

In the world of miniature horses, Cayla Schaeffer stands tall.

The Enumclaw 19-year-old closed out her career in the American Miniature Horse Registry and the American Miniature Horse Association’s youth ranks with top honors in September.

Schaeffer, a 2009 Enumclaw High School graduate, and her approximately 30-inch tall partners Kingpin, Blondie and Tempest swept through the AMHR Nationals in Tulsa, Okla. In addition to her three horses, Schaeffer also showed several others. Between them, she garnered 12 national titles, 14 reserve championship awards and earned the Alvadar Future of the Industry High Point Award for the third year. She and Blondie also picked up the High Point Youth Award, one-horse combination, for 13 to 18 year olds.

A week later at the AMHA Worlds in Fort Worth, Texas, she and her horses picked up six world titles. Barred by a rule change from being named the top in the industry again, she said, she and Blondie took the single horse combination for 13 to 18 year olds.

“She’s been doing it over and over for years,” her mother Coral Morris said.

Horses, in general, are a family affair. Miniature horses play a big role. Schaeffer’s grandmother Judy Smith has bred and raised the tiny horses at her Enumclaw farm for years.

Schaeffer started showing at age 7 and was a winner right out the gate. Her 14-year-old sister Hannah also competes. Hannah is also a champion jumper on the full-size equestrian version.

It takes years to get a horse to the level of Blondie and Kingpin, Schaeffer said. She spends five to six days a week working with them. The horses compete in divisions like obstacle, halter, driving, hunter, jumper and showmanship. Even with their diminutive stature, miniature horses are asked to perform big in the ring, pulling carts and jumping 4-foot high fences.

“She’s probably one of the most talented ones,” Schaeffer said of Blondie. “Some horses have more talent than others. She’s the best in the world at the moment.”

“He’s got the biggest heart,” she said of Kingpin. “He’ll do anything for you.”

In addition, Schaeffer was named to the AMHA Honor Roll and collected five belt buckles for being the points leader nationwide. She wasn’t the only one to bring home a buckle. Coral won three and Hannah and dad John each earned one.

What makes that feat stand out, Coral said, is there are only five shows during the season in this area and they compete against owners, trainers and riders across the country in high-show areas like Florida and Arizona.

The 2010 season begins in a couple weeks and Schaeffer will move up to compete as an amateur, where her mother doesn’t think she’ll have any problem staying on top.

“I think it’s going to be easier,” Coral said.

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