Young stallions show their promise

Published 3:13 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Betty Zumbro has something to show for her hard work and investment, and that manifestation recently came through the performances of two of her stallions — Icy Blue and Bar B. King Zorro.

Zumbro owns 12 horses and operates Pembleton Stables, a small breeding facility near Dillwyn.

She has shown walking horses for 35 years, and that tradition continued this spring at the Virginia Walking/Racking Horse Owners Association Horse Show in Chatham.

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At that show, a 3-year-old Blue Roan Tennessee Walking stallion she owns named Icy Blue competed in two different classes.

“This is his first show, the first time he’s ever been in competition,” Zumbro said.

Icy Blue engaged in a pleasure walk and pleasure rack.

Explaining the term “rack,” Zumbro said it is a type of gait.

Riding Icy Blue was a trainer that Zumbro employed named Chase Seay, of Dreaming Creek Ranch in Concord.

Zumbro said that as judges observed horses walking and racking, “they’re watching them for consistency of gait and how they’re presented, the beauty and the quality of the horse.”

Icy Blue placed first in one class and second — or reserve — in the other.

“What makes it so unique is … this was the first time he’d ever been off the farm to a show,” Zumbro said, noting that a lot of horses in Icy Blue’s shoes would have been more skittish. “He’s a sensible, young horse.”

He is not far from the youngest end of the spectrum for competing walking horses.

“They can actually go in the ring at age 2,” she said. “They can, but that’s pushing it.”

She affirmed that training for a show like this one in the classes Icy Blue competed in involves a close bond between horse and rider that helps to achieve a good performance.

“That’s certainly part of it, but it’s consistency, and a walking horse is bred to do that gait naturally, but you have to shoe them correctly and ride them correctly,” she said. “There’s a lot to it.”

As for how long Icy Blue trained for his initial showing, “I’d say, about a year, but that’s not unusual at all,” Zumbro said. “You have to break them first and get them going under saddle at home first.”

She noted Icy Blue is headed to Lexington, Virginia, next month to show at the Rockbridge Regional Fair.

On June 2, also in Chatham, the 3-year-old Gypsy Vanner stallion owned by Zumbro named Bar B. King Zorro made a key exhibition appearance that Zumbro likened to a halftime presentation. The horse, known by the farm name Bobby Sox, was not up for awards but was able to showcase what it could do.

“Bobby Sox did a solo presentation, he did it to classical music, and it was simply walk, trot, canter and basic dressage,” Zumbro said.

This was Bobby Sox’s second time out.

“That horse also went to the Virginia Horse Festival in Doswell back in March,” Zumbro said.

Evaluating Bobby Sox’s latest exhibition in Chatham, Zumbro said, “Brilliant, brilliant because of his young age.”

She said she is not sure what is next for Bobby Sox, “but we’re going to break him to the carriage, the cart, pretty quick.”

He sets a new precedent for Zumbro in her time as a shower of walking horses.

“This is my very first Gypsy Vanner horse,” she said. “Icy Blue comes from West Virginia, and Bobby comes from Texas, and they both stand at stud at my farm.”