Patricia “Mam” Muhr is proof that if you want to be involved with horses, you can be. No matter your age.
It is, she says, something you can enjoy at any level – whether that is just walking around your backyard or competing at the Zoetis AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships, which is what the 76-year-old from Wilson, Oklahoma, is doing this week.
“I would like to tell people that, health permitting, you can do this,” she says. “You’re not too old. If you want to do it, and you don’t have issues stopping you, get on a horse and do it. You don’t have to be a world champion to go out there and have fun. ”
Her equine partner is the 15-year-old AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred Lil Miss Blue Hen, a daughter of the Colonel Freckles-bred stallion Just Plain Sugar and the Krogs Pappy Leo mare Miss Pine Bar Leo. The mare, “Lil Hen,” was bred by Kalpowar Quarter Horses of Midland, Texas.
Mam and Lil Hen are competing in the limited amateur division, as they are relatively new to VRH.
Mam, however, has been riding almost her whole life. She grew up around horses, then was a horse show mom to her children, including her daughter Karen McCuistion, whose extensive resume includes being an AQHA competitor and judge, and soon will include being an AQHA employee, as she joins the show staff in April. Mam has continued riding, doing cow horse and roping in recent years, and took up VRH last year.
“It’s exciting,” she says of the new discipline. “It is so challenging. There’s so much detail to attend to – getting your markers correct, getting the maneuvers, the details are so challenging. And that’s what makes it so much fun. You’re not just out there doing anything, you’re out there trying to adhere to a very strict program. It makes it fun when you do it well. And if you don’t, you think, ‘OK, I’ll do it well next time,’ and you come back for more. Of course, if you do it well, you say, ‘Wow, I can do this,’ and you come back for more!”
She also appreciates her equine partner, whom she has owned since 2009. The mare was Karen and husband Carl’s training program previous to that, so the two have known each other for a long time.
“She’s an awesome rope horse – I both head and heel on her, although we’re both better at heeling,” Mam says. “She’s so quiet and gentle and fun to ride. She’s a really good example of an American Quarter Horse. I put little kids on her if we have company and she just walks around the arena. But I can get on her, back her into the box – and they don’t outrun me!
“She’s a fun horse to have, and I’ve had success with her,” she adds. “I intend to keep riding her as long as both she and I are moving!”
Lil Hen suffered a wire cut in the pasture and was off for three weeks, healing just in time to make it to the show. But that didn’t slow either of them down at all – Mam came out of the show pen smiling.
“Even with mistakes, we’re having a good time,” she says with a laugh. “Most of it’s going well.”
The best part of the weekend might be a surprise she received on Friday, when her granddaughter, Kali, walked in the door. Kali flew from Maryland to Houston for the weekend, and the rest of the family is supporting her from a distance, as well.
“I am blessed beyond measure by my family,” Mam says. “They are my mentors, my teachers and my biggest cheerleaders. They are my friends as well as my family. We enjoy being together, and it’s hard to put into words. It’s overwhelming, is what it is. It’s absolutely priceless.”