By American Quarter Horse Journal editor Andrea Caudill
It was love that brought Mark Mitchell into horses.
But it wasn’t the horses that he fell in love with, at least not at first – it was his wife Sandy Ivelich, who about 14 years ago bought her first horse, and it didn’t take Mark too long to figure things out.
“I grew up in Southern California on the beach surfing,” says Mark. “I didn’t know anything about horses. After she got her first horse, I realized I’d better learn something about it, otherwise I was never going to see her unless I did. And it turns out I really like it!”
Mark dived in, too. Now, the Paso Robles, California-based pair share their lives at work and at home. Mark is an optometrist, and Sandy works at his practice. At home, they enjoy their four horses and showing together. Sandy focuses on hunt seat and jumping, while Mark does reining, cow horse and ranch riding. Together they are at the AQHA West Level 1 Championship.
“Mark and I, this is our passion,” Sandy says. “We do this together, we show together, all over the west. That’s the secret – and we enjoy our time together.”
Mark is showing his 6-year-old gelding One Fancy Magnum, a son of Magnum With A Dream out of the Royal Diamondnic mare Ms Diamonds Fancy. The horse, bred by T.D. Cravens of Gainsville, Texas, has more than $8,200 in National Reined Cow Horse Association earnings.
Mark bought the horse in Texas and had him delivered to the 2018 AQHA West Level 1 Championship at the South Point in Las Vegas – and even showed him in ranch riding.
“I had ridden him once, and owned him about 12 hours – and we got Top 15 in ranch riding,” Mark says with a laugh.
The pair are showing branching out now – just last week, they participated in their very first National Reined Cow Horse Association show, and even won their boxing class.
Sandy is showing her horse, Blazinghotinvestment, at the show, too, but they’re also taking advantage of everything Las Vegas has to offer – they attended a concert by legend Santana (“it was really good!”) and just enjoying their time together.
It is a way to spend quality time together, and also a way to unwind.
The surfer-turned-horseman also enjoys skiing. Both sports, Mark says, have an element of danger.
“But, when you’re doing that kind of sport, if you think of something else, it can go bad,” he says. “So it definitely takes your mind off of anything else, if you want it to go well.”
And right now, it’s going pretty well for both of them.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit www.aqha.com/news.