APHA
No Fences—Every Horse and Every Horseman has a Story

Dare to Dream

Katie Johnston and Love Me Im Chipfaced are chasing big ambitions on a small budget.

By Delores Kuhlwein

Some people just seem to be born under a lucky star, or maybe—just maybe—there’s something more to it.

The epitome of what you might call “spunky,” petite, brunette Katie Johnston lives by the mantra, “Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do it.” With that in mind, she’s made a splash on the APHA show circuit with her homegrown gelding Love Me Im Chipfaced, commonly known as “Waylon.”  Remarkably, the talented bay overo is the result of a $50 stud fee won in a silent auction, out of a mare Katie bought for herself as a nursing-school graduation present. Through auctions, frugality and hard work, Katie has come a long way without spending a fortune.

Her story, however, is about a lot more than showing on a budget.

Although the Amateur from Port Angeles, Washington, does consider herself lucky, behind her climb to imminent success stands a relentless spirit, a once-in-a-lifetime horse and a girl with a plan.

An Eye for Color

Raised by a single mother who shared her daughter’s equine passion, Katie quickly learned how to be involved with horses with a limited income. At first, that meant attending local gaming events and trail riding on her pony. But her heart always yearned for a Paint—bay overos in particular put a sparkle in her eye—so when Love Me Im Legal came across her path, it felt like fate.

“When I found ‘Ruby,’ Waylon’s dam, for sale, it was love at first sight,” Katie said.

After graduating from nursing school, Katie bought the mare and started dabbling with all-around events, taking lessons from local trainers to learn the ropes. She admits that even with her job as a registered nurse in the family birth center at a small, rural hospital in Port Townsend, Washington, the horse world felt financially daunting.

“While I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing career in nursing, riding hasn’t been an easy hobby, as the horse world is expensive,” Katie said.

But Katie dug down deep and built her own systems to stay active in the sport she loves, and the results are paying off.

Soak It Up

To keep up in a world that demands constant learning, the do-it-yourself Amateur addressed the issue in a thrifty and practical way.

“I have always referred to myself as a sponge,” Katie said. “Over the years, I’ve taken lessons when I could afford them to soak up everything I could.”

In between in-person opportunities, Katie online videos, audits clinics and utilizes technology to learn.

“There are so many resources at our fingertips with today’s technology,” she said. “If I like a particular strategy, I try it. If it doesn’t work for me, I move on to a different strategy or go back to the drawing board. I attended a clinic one winter that was a huge learning experience for me; finding affordable clinics and making time for them, with or without your horse, is priceless.”

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2018 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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