“He is a bright sorrel with four white legs. He stands out from the crowd purely because he’s flashy, then, when he starts to move it’s pretty magical," Meg states. Photo © Southern Moon Photography

#WhiteLegsForTheWin: Sleepin Takes AQHA English Events by Storm

Natural talent in a young horse is one of the most desired qualities in today’s equine industry. To say the foals of today have the ability to shape the stylistic outcome of the show pen tomorrow wouldn’t be a stretch. Some horses have the potential to catch our eye as gangly foals and yearlings. The first time they move into a canter, you just know. You picture them with neck ribbons long before you ever swing your leg over their back for the first time. Those are the special ones.

A horse by the name of Sleepin had this effect on people – and they were right. Not only did he prove himself as a showstopper in 2016, but represented the naturally gifted, sizable, good-minded two-year-old most would love to find. His movement provided a refreshing statement in the show pen as a young horse that enjoyed his people and his job.

Owner, Meg DePalma-Whelan, first saw “Pax” at the AQHA World Show in 2015. Her trainer, Keith Miller, said he had seen a video of him going around in a round pen and knew it needed to be Meg’s next horse. But, at the time, she already had another hunt seat horse that needed to be sold before making a purchase.

“We left the world show that year and didn’t say much about the ‘round pen horse’ until his former trainer posted a video on Facebook a few months after. I fell in love. Apparently, so did the internet. We knew we had to make a quick move before someone scooped him up. Keith flew out the next week to ride him and get him vetted. The purchase was done in 24 hours. Shelley and Kim Donovan and Farley McLendon owned him, and that’s where we bought Pax. They were great to work with.”

The Too Sleepy To Zip gelding’s movement wasn’t the only thing that made him attractive to Meg. He is a bright sorrel with four white legs and stands out from the crowd purely because he’s flashy, then, when he starts to move it’s pretty magical. “Pax is very slow legged and soft. He hits the ground so natural and with great rhythm. Having four white legs can help or hurt some horses, depending on movement. It turned out that for Pax, it just accentuated his slow, rhythmic gate. That’s why my barn mate, Meghan Tierney, and I coined #whitelegsforthewin as her horse, Pretty Assets, also has four white legs.”

If his appearance and movement weren’t enough to capture the hearts of Meg and Keith, his personality might just be the icing on the cake. Keith says what makes Pax stand out goes beyond his talent. “I feel like his trainability and personality are what sets him apart. I always look forward to riding him because I know he never gives me a bad ride. Pax is one of, if not the best, minded young horse I have ever had. He is as easy-going as could be and doesn’t ever want any trouble. He’s been easy since the day we got him from Farley McLendon, who did a great job starting him.”

Keith also shared a heart-warming story about his young daughter and Pax, solidifying once again, the kindness he possesses.

“He was the first horse my daughter ever sat on, which is ironic because, at the time, he was a two-year-old, but I knew he would be safe and trustworthy. I wouldn’t ever put her on something else that young, but he is truly an old soul. Ironically, he remains her favorite. She squeals and reaches for him every time she sees him.”

Meg alluded to the fact that Pax’s registered name, Sleepin, is the perfect name to describe Pax. “He is a lazy boy, has no motor whatsoever, and needs to be pushed at all times. Pax loves his job and is always very happy. He’s a spoiled rotten baby, but that’s how Keith makes them when they are good students. I love that about Keith’s program.”

Sleepin already has a resume that most would envy, all after an action-packed two-year-old year. The following accomplishments were earned with Meg or Keith in the irons in 2016.

Big A
Premier Sires 2-year-old Open Hunter Under Saddle Champion

NSBA World Show
Green Hunter Under Saddle Champion
2-yr-old Limited Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle Champion
BCF 2-yr-old Limited Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle Champion
2-yr-old Open Hunter Under Saddle Reserve Champion

All American Quarter Horse Congress
2x Congress Champion
1 Reserve Champion

Keith reflected on the 2016 Congress by saying that his win in the Green Hunter Under Saddle has been his most special win on Pax to date. “I was so proud of him to be able to compete with those older, more seasoned horses.”

It is evident by Sleepin’s collection of titles that he has talent, eye appeal, and heart that has been recognized by individuals and judges everywhere. Keith described the way Pax takes control when he is shown. “I think that he has such a great, ground-covering trot with a great expression when he enters the arena. It leaves a good impression on the judges, and then when he canters, he sets himself apart.”

In 2017 Meg and Keith are focusing on 3-year-old futurity classes for the remainder of the year. Meg will compete in Amateur and Keith will compete in the Junior. Pax did get to test out his all-around skills following the Florida circuits in 2016 with Meg’s other trainers, Michael Colvin and Clint Ainsworth, where they gave western riding and trail a shot. Meg says that Pax showed great talent with both the lead changes and the poles, which are exciting for the future.

Sleepin has found his way into the hearts of his owner, trainer, and many other people that have encountered his talent and disposition. Horses like that are hard to find.

Meg described her time with him thus far. “Pax is a pleasure to show and own. He’s a great minded horse that loves his job. Special thanks to Shelley and Kim for raising such a talented baby, Farley for starting Pax, and Keith Miller for doing such an excellent job training, showing, and promoting him.”

Good luck to Meg and Keith as they continue on their journey with Sleepin.


About the Author: GoHorseShow intern, Morgan McCarthy Warda, is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in Wildlife Biology and Writing. Morgan grew up actively competing on the AQHA circuit. She balances her time between her job as an Agriculture Environment Assurance Program Technician, showing, writing, being an MQHA board member, and working as a student research assistant at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. In the future, Morgan plans to obtain a Master’s degree in Wildlife Management and continue to be an active member of AQHA.
Photos © Shane Rux, Southern Moon Photography, Courtsey Promotions, Larry Williams