'American Idol' of horses: Veterinarian, horse compete in national TV series
Oct. 10, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.
Carol Warren is convinced her horse, Cowboys Newton (aka Newt), is the best horse around. She's just hoping America agrees.
Warren, of Weesatche, and Newt are one of 100 finalists from across the nation competing in "America's Favorite Trail Horse," a television series on HRTV.
"Everybody that knows me knows he's pretty special," Warren said of Newt. "He has a fun personality. He tries so hard for me."
The 47-year-old rider and 14-year-old American Quarter Horse have been a team since Newt was a yearling. Warren calls Newt her partner and friend, and together, the duo has worked to rank Newt seventh in the region and 17th nationally in the American Competitive Trail Horse Association.
Newt has battled health problems, including arthritic hocks, for most of his life, but Warren, a veterinarian at VCA Victoria Animal Hospital, calls her partner ideal. She said the fact that neither her nor Newt has had formal training makes them special to the competition.
"Newt was kind and patient enough to allow me to be his only trainer. I often wonder how much better he could be if he had a knowledgeable trainer," Warren wrote on her biography that will be posted online when the show airs Tuesday.
Warren and Newt competed against 1,000 other teams, several of which were professional trainers, at the show's taping in Blanco at the Franklin Family Ranch.
They made it to the finals, which posed three full days of competition, including a six-mile ride, obstacles and criticism from professional coaches.
Warren conceded she was worried the taping didn't capture how good of a trail horse Newt really is. Warren hates jumping, for one, but Newt is a natural jumper.
Where Warren was anxious, Newt was steadfast, though.
"With all the cameras and everybody sitting there watching, I was just very nervous, but he still pulled us through," she said.
Viewers can vote on their favorite horse every week, and the top winner will walk away with $25,000. Second and third places win $15,000 and $10,000.
It's like the "American Idol" of horse riding, Warren said.
Warren said she was satisfied just trying out so she had the opportunity to be around experts that could make her and Newt a stronger team. But now that they're in the finals, she's set her sights on another goal.
"If we win this, it's not for the money, it's for the prestige. It's for the honor of him," she said. "In my heart, I think he's the best there is. It's just fun when someone else recognizes something you love as being the best, too."