After being retired for a few years, Mahogany, who is 14 years old, was brought to Wilmington in a Dodge Durango, and has been put back into action. The brown, mild-mannered mini is helping local fifth-grader Tanya Wheeler stay competitive, and learn new skills for new competitions. Wheeler won her first show last year, after being named lead-line champion at a horse show. This competition entails leading a horse through walking, trotting, skills, and an obstacle course, and now that she has a topnotch grasp on leading, Wheeler wants to begin driving.
“I went to a horse show this summer and there were a lot of minis there,” said Tanya. “I liked what they were doing with them, and they were driving them, and I wanted to do that.”
At the helm of the stable’s new cart, Wheeler has begun to drive with Mahogany and tackle a new area of horse expertise. Tanya has been taking lessons at the stable with her older sister Shiane for a few years now, and both are in the international 4H horse program, which challenges them and lets them compete in tests of their equestrian knowledge. According to Brown, both are model students, and“horse obsessive.”
For Brown, along with Brookside teacher Shelby Lawrence, Mahogany has provided a new way to challenge Tanya. “We’ve been trying to come up with more ways to safely challenge Tanya, and Shelby and I are always chatting about that to figure out what we can do to keep building,” said Brown. “There is so much to do in the horse-driving world and somehow that turned to ‘Wouldn’t a mini be perfect.’”
Brown found Mahogany online and found out he had national show experience, a helpful trait for those who will be leading or driving him in the ring. “ He’s not retired, he’s just changed hands and stopped showing,” said Brown. “We’re going to give him some refresher courses and be ready to remind him what the working world is all about since he’s been a pet for the past few years.”
Tanya and Shiane’s father Paul is happy his daughter’s passion can be challenged. “I think it’s a great opportunity for Tanya,” said Paul. “It’s great she can be challenged further, because it’s her only real hobby and she really puts time into it.” Having two daughters who ride together helps, according to Wheeler. “It’s a fun thing they get to do together, and they are very supportive of each other.”