If Not For The Forum…
As told to Heidi Hallberg, PleasureHorse.com, by Jan Wandling
The PleasureHorse Forum is visited daily by thousands of people. For these Forum members, it helped make a big dream come true…
This story begins many years ago, in the late 1980s, before the Internet even existed. Jan Wandling was your typical Quarter Horse owner and fanatic, who scoured the pages of the American Quarter Horse Journal and many other horse publications every month. Through all of this research, she fell in love with the stallion ”Iron Rebel” from the Steyskal Ranch in Nebraska. Through the many articles she read about him and what he was siring, he became her all time favorite stallion and she dreamed of one day owning one of his. She especially liked what he was producing with the Tiger Leo broodmares.
In 1997, Jan was looking for a replacement for her, then soon to be retired, gelding. “We looked at quite a few, but there was something about the small, dark two- year old filly who just happened to be an Iron Rebel granddaughter out of a Tiger Leo bred mare.” Jan bought her and fell in love.
Twelve years later, in January, 2009, Jan discovered the PleasureHorse Forum, and found it to be a great community where she could learn about many different things and people and their horses. “What a great place this is!” was Jan’s thought.
Later that same year, Jan experienced some medical issues and decided to post an offer on the PleasureHorse Forum leasing her pregnant mare for free. One response she got was from a nice woman in Ohio named Valerie Morgan. At the time, neither woman knew that Morgan owned the dam (A Sea Of Dreams by Iron Rebel X Sea Tigress) of the mare that Wandling was in the process of leasing. After this, the two women began e-mailing and became friends, talking about their mares and their great breeding, all from the Steyskal ranch. They spent many hours on the phone and continued their friendship.
In 2010, Jan’s mare foaled a nice filly, and she went to the PleasureHorse Forum for name ideas. She posted that she wanted to name her “The Iron Tigress.” “A really nice lady, named Karen Kent, from Ohio, wrote that she owned an AQHA mare named ‘Iron Tigress’ and asked me about my mare’s bloodlines. Shockingly, she said she owned two full sisters to my mare’s dam – ‘Iron Tigress’ and ‘Sizzlin Iron.” Valerie Morgan joined in on the forum conversation, and the three women got to know each other and learn more about their closely related mares.
Through all these discussions, the group learned from Karen that a 4th full sister, named “Katarina Iron,” is owned by Ann Myers in Ohio!! “That just blew me away!” said Wandling. “Four full sisters, and my granddaughter mare, by the great stallion ‘Iron Rebel’ and out of the great mare ‘Sea Tigress’ all in Ohio, just a few hours from me in West Virginia!” At that time, there was some banter about how much fun it would be for the three women to travel to Nebraska and meet Mary Kay and Stan Steyskal and see their beautiful ranch and all their horses, and hear her stories. “We all wanted to thank her for breeding our girls, and tell her how much we believed in her breeding program.”
The group continued to keep in touch. In August, 2011, Karen Kent posted on the forum that her wonderful mare “Iron Tigress” had passed away. Karen emailed Jan telling her all about how much she had meant to the whole family, including her husband and two sons. “I cried like a baby,” said Wandling. Karen also emailed Mary Kay Steyskal to let her know of the death and to express how much “Tiger” had meant to her family and thank her for her wonderful breeding program, and what the “S” brand meant to her. “That ‘S’ brand stuck in my mind for many days,” said Wandling.
The 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress was fast approaching, so Jan threw out an idea for them all to meet (for the first time) at Congress. They wanted to put faces to the names, emails and forum posts, and have the opportunity to share stories and photos. Wandling’s niece would be showing in the Versatility class on October 26, so that was the day chosen for the meeting.
In mid-August, Jan found Mary Kay Steyskal on Facebook and wrote to her.
“I told her she did not know me, but I was writing to her to explain the story about Karen, Valerie and me, and our mares, and how we met on the PleasureHorse Forum. I invited her to meet us at Congress, as we would love to see her and talk to her about her breeding program. I never thought in a million years that I would get a reply, as she didn’t know me from Adam…”
The next day, Wandling received a very nice response from Mary Kay, saying she would love to meet the women at Congress. Jan also connected through Facebook with Judy Pryor, of Pryor Ranch, another breeding legend and “idol” of Wandling’s. “I have followed her late, great stallion ‘Deck Of Stars’ over the years. What a great stallion he was, and Judy is just the sweetest lady ever!” Wandling invited Judy Pryor to meet the group as well, and to sit with her family and watch the Versatility class that evening. She agreed. “Again, I was in a state of shock that these fantastic women, who are at the top in AQHA breeding, would take the time to meet with us three.”
The meeting place seemed a natural fit – Judy Pryor would be sharing a booth with DeGraff Stables, Painted Pines Ranch and some other stallion owners in Congress Hall – Robin DeGraff offered the booth as the location for the gathering.
During all of this meeting coordination, Karen Kent’s mare had not been doing too well. Still in mourning, Kent was thinking a companion might be a good thing. Wandling offered to send her beloved mare “Sis” to try and help her out of it. Sis made the trek to Ohio just two weeks before Congress, and they are doing well together and Wandling’s mare is helping. Jan commented, “I had never even spoken on the phone with Karen Kent until I loaded my mare on the hauler’s trailer for her four hour trip to Karen’s beautiful farm in Ohio.”
Jan Wandling – “And on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, I met the most wonderful and kind people who were so generous with their time to meet with us three. Not only did I meet for the very first time, my Forum friends Karen Kent and Valerie Morgan, but the women I have idolized in the AQHA breeding industry for most of my life! Mary Kay Steyskal, Judy Pryor, Ann Myers, -WOW- I was just so overcome with emotion! I am so sorry Robin DeGraff could not join us – we missed you, Robin! The meet and greet was so much fun and Joe and Heidi with PleasureHorse.com and Judy Pryor hosted us. What a great time! Thank you to all who came and shared in this wonderful experience, and a huge THANK YOU to all who sat with us, met my sister and watched my niece show in the Versatility! That meant so much to me.”
“I believe in fate, and I believe we were brought together for a reason. The PleasureHorse Forum was the ‘tool’ that brought Valerie, Karen and I together for the first time, and it continued to help bring together this meeting. If it were not for the Forum, we three would have never met. And none of this would have ever happened. Thank you Heidi and Joe for continuing this forum and I hope it continues for many, many years and brings more ‘horse loving people’ together as it did us. I will forever cherish this…it was magical!”