Ever since she can remember, Michele has been passionate about horses. At age 5 her parents got her a pony named Little Sugar and at age 7 they gave her an unbroken two-year old mare known as Miss Priss. She had no idea how to train a horse so she read books and learned from others. Over time she became quite accomplished and competed in various quarter horse shows. The Dallas Morning News called her, “the greatest horse girl in the world”, at 10 years old she won a mink stole competing against experienced women riders. By the time she was 13, she had won more than 2,000 ribbons, trophies, medals and saddles at every major horse show in the U.S. over the previous five years.
Today, Michele lives in the Saddle Back community nestled among the rocks on top of Troon Mountain. She was raised and schooled in Dallas Texas before she moved to Arizona in 2011.
There are only an approximate 350 certified horse judges in the world. Michele is one of them.
MIchele, what is one of your earliest memories about your love for horses?
“When I was a very young girl, I carried around a plastic horse in a Barbie doll carrier. One day the horse’s leg accidentally broke so I fixed it with band-aides. Guess, horses have been an important part of my life for over 40 years.
How did you become an Quarter Horse show judge?
“The pinnacle of one’s horse career is, typically, to become a Judge. I was a professional horse trainer and decided to try to become a Judge. I was interviewed by the Executive Committee of The Breed and was accepted. It’s much more difficult today. Candidates have to qualify by both State and National Judges Committees and undergo elaborate testing, interviews and other qualifying procdures.
Why did you decide to relocate to Arizona?
I was looking to start a new chapter in my life. I had been to West World to judge shows and thought the desert was stunningly beautiful. So much so, I would always bring back a cactus to Dallas and eventually had a catcus garden there. So, in 2011, I bought a house in Cave Creek. However, I fell in love with the Pima corridor area although I didn’t think I could financially afford a place there. Luckily, an opportunity came along that made it possible to move to Troon Village and the Saddleback house where I live now.
What are your plans for the future?
I ‘m still working but am looking forward to retirement. Even when I retire I’ll probably do some part-time consulting work, helping others to train their horses. As a Judge, I would be able to advise riders on what the judges look for and how to best position themselves to win at the shows. I will also spend more time riding my bike and motorcycle; perhaps even do some volunteer work. One thing for sure, I will never lose my love of horses, they will always remain a big part of my life.