Huntington horse owners go way past best of show honors

Laura Mason (left) and daughter Brianna are pictured with two of their horses that recently won horse of the year. Mason and her husband Eric Mason, operates Pine Hollow Paints. Laura holds “Last Sunshine,” while Brianna holds “Sunni’s Spinning Fool."
Laura Mason (left) and daughter Brianna are pictured with two of their horses that recently won horse of the year. Mason and her husband Eric Mason, operates Pine Hollow Paints. Laura holds “Last Sunshine,” while Brianna holds “Sunni’s Spinning Fool." Photo by Andre B. Laird.

Originally published April 12, 2010.

When most people show an animal in competition, they hope to win best of show.

Laura Mason's horses went one step further and won horse of the year in two different categories.

Mason and her husband Eric are the owners of Pine Hollow Paints, a horse farm in Huntington that specializes in Paint and Pinto horses.

"We've been raising Paint horses since 1984," states Laura Mason. "I have always had a love for the breed. My 4-H leader had a Paint stallion and after we got married, I started showing them."

The horses "Last Sunshine" and "Sunni's Spinning Fool" achieved top honors in the world last year, based on the accumulation of show points they earned throughout the year.

Points are awarded at Pinto Horse Association or American Paint Horse Association-sanctioned events, the organizations that govern each breed.

Last Sunshine, a 1995-born Sorrel Overo mare, won the Open Overo Color Pony category.

Her other accomplishments include a top five placement in the 2007 APPR Pony of the Year list.

Sunni's Spinning Fool is a 2001-born Buckskin Tobiano pony gelding. He topped the Youth Jumping and Hand Pinto group and had top five placements in the 2006 and 2007 APPR Pony of Year list.

"There are differences between Pinto and Paint breeds, which can be easily confusing," says Mason. "Paint horses are defined by their bloodlines, while Pintos are defined by their colors."

The Pinto Horse Association is a color registry, and Pintos can be any breed except draft or Appaloosa.
Paints are American Paint Horse Association-registered horses that can prove parentage from one of the three approved registries, American Quarter Horse Association, Thorough Bred and American Paint Horse Association as well as meet a minimum color requirement.

"Basically a Paint's bloodline has to be Paint, thoroughbred or quarter-horse," Mason notes.

She adds that the farm has numerous horses that have won year-end awards and accumulated points and have been on Top 10 lists in different categories.

"As successful as we have been, this is the first time we have won best in the world," states Mason. "It's even more memorable because we did it in two separate categories."

She adds the horses receive a high level of training before they are entered into competition.

"At one time we had 28 head, but we have scaled back to 17, with one on the way," she says. "We work with them and they are all broke to lead."

She adds that the horses can't be broken to ride until at least two years old, but saddle training begins shortly before they reach that age.

Mason says it is important to amass as many points as possible at each show in order to be in the running for the coveted award.

"I remember in 1998 we were going to a show almost every weekend year-round," she states. "Each show has an average of four to six judges and each individual judge's score is added to your total."

Mason adds that they average four to six breed shows each year.

"The economy has had an effect on the horse industry," she states. "It can be very expensive to own a
horse and as such, the market has declined for most breeds except for Paints, which seem to be stable."
Mason adds that when she and her husband started the farm, the bought $500 to $600 mares, which were bred with good stallions.

"Stud fees for stallions can range any where from $50 to $200 for someone who just wants a farm horse or pony, to upwards of a $1,000 for show animals, depending on the breed," states Mason. "Some champion thorough bred owners charged up to $1 million for stud fees."

For her, though, the rewards outweigh the cost.

"Our daughter Brianna does a lot of the shows and it's great to watch her," she states. "I just think that Paint horses are beautiful animals. They have very distinctive colors and most have a great disposition. I love working with them."

She adds that they plan to enter the first Pinto show of the year on May 15 and 16, in Rochester.

"The world show is in June, but because of the weather, I don't know if we will be able to get enough training in to be ready," Mason adds. "We'll be ready for most of the other shows, which are usually in late summer to early fall."

Pine Hollow Paints, located at 6173W-250S, is a private farm and an appointment is necessary before visiting the compound.

For more information, contact the Masons at 468-2642; via e-mail at pinehollowpnts@earthlink.net or visit www.pinehollowpaints.com.