RIVER FALLS, Wis. --Leinie, a pure-bred Arabian who just two years ago was severely ill and near death, returned to the show ring recently at the US National Arabian Horse Championships, and became a national champion.

Leinie, whose registered name is Kaycee of Jewylls LAS, is owned by Kathy Schwartz of Troy and trained by Jenna Ball of Westridge Farms located in Troy just north of River Falls. Leinie is a 10 year-old who has competed regionally and nationally for the past eight years amassing numerous honors and two national championships.

Schwartz characterizes Leinie as “smart, sensitive, loving, and undeniably beautiful,” and Ball recalls Leinie as a young horse “being very spirited and he never made it easy.” He is gentle now, but only after years of training and Schwartz and Ball earning his trust.

Most recently, while competing in the Hunter/Pleasure Class at the US National Arabian Horse Championships in Tulsa, Okla., Leinie was selected the Reserve National Champion. The competing horses are judged on many factors culminating in a well-rounded winner. The horse must be properly proportioned, groomed, move with grace, display a shiny appearance, and be shoed properly and soft to the touch. Although horses in this class do not race or jump, they must be deemed capable of jumping and have an overall athletic appearance.

To get to the US National Championships and other equivalent national shows, a horse must compete in local Class A events and in regional events accumulating sufficient points to qualify for nationals. Leinie earned a top five finish in the highly competitive Kentucky based Region XIV to clinch his advance to Tulsa.

Once at US Nationals, Leinie competed in two classes. With Ball aboard he competed in the Open category against the very best trainers and the very best pure-bred Arabians from all classes and finished in the Top 10. That is essentially the equivalent of being an All- American. With local rider Gabriella Larson aboard, he won the honor of Reserve US National Champion in the Purebred Hunter Pleasure Select class.

Leinie will go on to compete in the renowned Scottsdale Horse Show in February with Schwartz holding the reins in the Select Class and Ball in the Open Class. Quite an accomplishment for a horse that was near death two years ago.

“We never gave up on Leinie,” Schwartz said. “It’s when your real life is better than your dreams.”

Westridge Farms, as a training center for Arabians, is a family affair that has been ongoing for over 50 years. The farm now has 36 horses in training and 85 horses on the farm that features an indoor riding arena and all the modern amenities for maintaining their horses in top condition. The farm grows much of its own food and covers the spectrum of delivering a show experience to its clients from care, to lessons, training, coaching and transportation to local and national horse shows. For riders young and old who chose equestrian sports over the more traditional, Westridge Farms and Ball provide exceptional training of both horse and rider where teamwork, discipline and dedication are the foundation for success.