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2024 Horseperson of the Year

Horse Woman of the Year: Jenny Mize 

By Jenny Mize

They say, "You're born with that horse gene." Anyone who has had horses knows how much hard work, dedication, and a lot of money goes into this lifestyle. At the end of the day, we are all incredibly blessed to be in the presence of these magnificent beings. As far back as I can remember, I have always been an animal lover; unlike many children in this area, I did not start riding horses until high school. I knew I always loved horses and would jump at any opportunity to be around them. Riding was just a bonus. 

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Noelle Rodolari gave me the opportunity to ride her horse, Red, on the beautiful local trails here in the Town of Woodside. Little did I know this network of trails would become my outlet for many years to come. Taking me under her wing and immersing me in all things horses, Noelle quickly suggested I join the San Mateo County Horsemen's Association (SMCHA) and tagged along for some of the Color Guard events Noelle and Red participated in. Meeting new people, whom I now consider friends and mentors, opened up a brand new world for me.


The SMCHA Color Guard unit soon took on a huge part of my young adult life, and I quickly bonded with many of the team members. Soon after, Anne Whitten handed over the reins of Unit Leader to Christine Friis. I loved helping with the horses during events and soon became an essential part of this incredible team and, ultimately, the "Ground Crew Manager." The amount of work required behind the scenes leading up to the parades, performances, and competitions is unbelievable. I enjoyed every aspect of the team and soon learned how to help keep riders, horses, and bystanders as safe as possible in difficult situations.


Soon, all these connections led me to an opportunity to own my very own horse! Nan and Kevin Daley owned a once-in-a-lifetime horse named Lil Joe, born at their home in Woodside in 2003. I never thought it would be possible to own my very own horse, but with the support of my parents, I officially bought my Lil Joe in May 2012. Thinking back on owning my first horse, I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. We have now been together for almost twelve years, and even though there have been a few challenges along the way, I wouldn't change this experience for the world. Learning to persevere through the inevitable bumps in the road is a life lesson that every equestrian will experience, and the support of the horse community during these times is amazing. Lil Joe and I have accomplished many things together that I never thought possible. He is my heart horse, and I am forever grateful for everything we have done together.


Every minute not sitting in my college classroom was spent at the barn. We all know how much work it takes to own a horse and all the other aspects that go into horse ownership. I have always loved grooming, mucking, sweeping hay scraps, cleaning tack, the smell of leather, fresh hay, and everything else that goes into being at and running a barn. Getting to know many other horses and their owners made me think that a career with horses would be a dream. I realized that many horse owners need help, so I started helping others at the barn. Soon after, looking through the local job postings on Bay Area Equine Network (BAEN), I stumbled across an ad for Webb Ranch, which was looking for lesson office staff. Working at Webb, I learned the names and how to identify 100 lesson horses, how to doctor wounds, tack many different disciplines, and lead more horses at one time than I ever thought I could handle! Like all horses, we often had ones that needed to be seen by the vet for various reasons. I was so intrigued by the medical procedures and thought this might be a perfect opportunity to learn even more from the vets who would come out to Webb.


In August of 2016, I was hired by Steinbeck Country Equine Clinics as a veterinary assistant for horses. While I had a huge learning curve, I was excited about the challenge and ready to learn about all things horses from a medical perspective. Working alongside a fantastic group of equine veterinarians, I quickly became a sponge, absorbing all kinds of information at every appointment. My background as a ground crew manager for the SMCHA Color Guard unit and the Webb Ranch lesson office prepared me to become an organized and efficient veterinary assistant, safely handling even the rankest horses. The name of the game in this profession is to be one step ahead of the doctor at all times to help the appointment be as safe and efficient as possible. Like with the Color Guard Unit, everything that happens behind the scenes in a veterinary practice would astonish anyone who has never experienced it. Learning to stock the vet truck with all the supplies needed for the day's scheduled appointments and all the emergencies that tend to pop into the mix at any given moment is a challenge. Working in this profession, we often see horse owners anywhere on the spectrum, from extreme highs when their equine partner was thriving and during some of the darkest and saddest moments when making heartbreaking decisions. I took pride in trying to be a quiet, calming presence no matter the situation. I am lucky to have come to know many extremely hardworking, passionate veterinarians and amazing clients who have become lifelong friends.


A special thank you to both of my parents for their continued support throughout the years because none of this would be possible without them. Going back to that horse gene we seem to be born with…. I'd like to thank my Mom for passing that on to me!

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