PLATTSBURGH — You could say that Skyza Limit had a humble beginning, but she is now a true champion show horse.
Sky, as her owner and rider Jill Rock affectionately calls the 8-year-old American paint, was born at Linwood Equine Ranch in Manitoba, Canada, a product of the Pregnant Mare Urine program.
Urine from pregnant mares raised on several ranches is used in the manufacture of the medicine Premarin, which is used in hormone-replacement therapy for women and was once produced at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Rouses Point.
The offspring of the mares are typically purchased by horse enthusiasts.
“These horses (born from mares in the program) don’t have the top of blood lines,” Rock said.
“Sky, not at all.”
Rock’s mother, Jane Hagar-Babbie, purchased Sky and two other PMU foals as family pets, but Rock eventually took a liking to Sky in particular.
“I was a couple years out of college and was feeling that I wanted to get back into riding,” she said. “I stopped riding when I was around 12, but I became interested again as I got to know Sky.
“It was weird,” she said of those early experiences riding the filly. “She was young, and I was so new to it. I guess it’s like riding a bike, but this was a whole new world to me. Back in the day, I’d just get on and ride. Now, I was riding every day.”
She spent a year training Sky, and the pair entered their first show in May 2008.
“It took a lot of patience from both of us to get ready,” she said of the road from an occasional trail horse to competitive show horse.
They showed at several local events that first year, and Rock’s excitement for Sky and her abilities continued to grow as they increased their training level heading into the next season.
“I do my training here on my own,” she said of the facility she has at the family farm on Cumberland Head. “I do have a professional trainer (Tim Jedra from the Finger Lakes region), but I only see him at horse shows in Syracuse.”
Over the last two years, Rock and Sky have earned the Overall Junior Amateur award from the Pinto Horse Association of New York state and have finished in the top five in Zone 7, covering the northeastern United States.
They have received four Top 10 finishes in the nation, and also won for showmanship and versatility.
“She amazes me every time out,” Rock said. “She has done really well for a ‘backyard’ horse.
“One of the biggest compliments I ever received was when someone said, ‘You and your horse are one of the best teams I’ve ever seen.’”
The camaraderie Rock and Sky have developed comes from the trust each has in the other, she noted. They practice well together, and that translates into smooth and confident rides during shows.
“She does whatever I ask her to do. She is a princess.”
When she is not training or showing, Sky has her own personality, filled with unbridled energy. But once she and Rock begin a routine, she is all work and all concentration.
Rock will show Sky at the Clinton County Fair this summer before moving on to state competition in Syracuse.
After the season is over, Rock may retire the mare from the show ring, but they will always share a special bond that brought them together, out of the blue.