Through the many years that we have bred miniature horses, starting with our first, Greaves’ Big Un, in 1963, until now, we have had many wonderful and interesting customers. We had an internationally known Italian fashion and leather goods designer, a former Broadway stage producer, a famous singing Mexican movie star, a founder and CEO of one of the world’s leading sellers of personal computers, and the latest, an internationally known restaurateur and reality TV star.
The latest addition to the Little America family is Lisa Vanderpump, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules, and a celebrity on the 2013 season of Dancing with the Stars. She asked her friend, Tina to find the smallest, best conformation, light colored miniature horse that could be bought. Tina, an experienced horsewoman who has trained Polo Ponies and has participated in Polo for years, was the perfect choice for the job.
A mutual friend emailed me about a month ago asking about the smallest and best that we had available and I made some suggestions, but didn’t hear back, so thought nothing of it. Apparently Lisa, on her own had found a horse advertised as the smallest in the world, so they decided that was the one they wanted. However, upon flying across the nation to purchase the horse they found that it was not what they were seeking.
Realizing that time was very short because the horse was to be a surprise for Lisa’s husband, Ken Todd, who was having his 70th birthday on July 20, 2015. The horse had to be there if humanly possible. It is ironic that that is my wife’s birthday too and the twentieth anniversary of buying our ranch in Buda. We were at a horse show with three of the Thursday Kids, my daughter Lauren and her boyfriend, thirteen minis and myself. Tina called but I was in the ring and didn’t check my phone until much later. In desperation she visited a couple of other places, but everyone told her that if she wanted the smallest available, to go to Little America. I finally checked my phone Saturday night and found a couple of messages plus texts from Tina. I called her back that night and said that I would be happy to show her horses when I got back, but that wouldn’t be until Sunday night.
The next morning she called back and asked if there was any way that someone could let her “preview” the horses before I got back. I reluctantly told her that I would contact Armando, who is my right hand man at the ranch, and she could go over. Later in the afternoon when I was watching the kids show, Armando called saying that they, Tina and her husband, Hank, liked two of the horses and really needed to get them the next morning. After talking to Tina on the phone, I agreed and asked Armando to clean the pair, Little America’s Sensational Goldie and Little America’s Galaxy Boogie, up and halter break Galaxy who had just been weaned a few days before.
When I got home Sunday evening, I went to the barn and saw that he had clipped Galaxy and touched up Goldie who had been shown earlier in the year and had also made an appearance with me in February on KXAN’s Studio 512.
He told me that we had to have them at the San Marcos airport at 9 the next morning because they were flying to California to get to a birthday party that afternoon or evening!
When I talked to Tina that night I told her that I needed the contact information for the new owner so I could get the paperwork done. She asked if she could give me that information when she got back from California because she could not reveal the name of the buyer before the presentation of the horses because it was going to be televised and she was not at liberty to tell me yet. She also said that she wasn’t sure, but that she might buy one of them and her friend the other, that she would give her a choice. I said that would be fine and proceeded to get everything ready. She wanted to also buy a show halter that they could use when the horse was presented at the party. I always love a good mystery and was up for it!
The next morning Armando and his son, Gabriel, went with me to the airport. When we got there I wasn’t sure where to go, so pulled into the parking lot and called Tina. She told me to pull out on to the tarmac and gave me the plane’s number. She said her husband and son, their pilot, were already there and she was about 15 minutes away. We pulled our mini pickup and mini trailer out to the plane. When we unloaded the horses we drew a crowd of the workers and each plane that landed while we were there walking them around.
We took some pictures with Tina and her son/pilot, Houston, then loaded the horses into the plane, a Cessna Mustang. Another irony, my nephew teaches pilots that plane at Simuflite Dallas, where he and his dad Ricky are both instructors. They had removed two seats, put down a tarp and had it nicely bedded with shavings for the four hour trip to the west coast.
After the horses made it and the party was done, Tina texted me that the buyer was Lisa Vanderpump and they were gifts for her husband, Ken Todd. A day later I was at the USDA waiting to get paperwork for horses going to Mexico, Ricky called me and said, “Your horses are on TV. They were just featured on TMZ.” From there the publicity has been fun to follow.
It turned out, Lisa was shocked to see TWO horses, but decided that she couldn’t choose between the two, so she was going to buy both. Hank and Tina wanted to buy Galaxy as their gift to Ken, but Lisa insisted and bought both of them. (TMZ reported incorrectly that she got a two for one deal for $3,500. She had planned on one but ended up buying both. Many other sources copied the erroneous info.) It happens that about a year ago after a wonderful evening with Lisa and Ken, Tina asked herself what could she get a person who had everything. Then she thought, Lisa loves animals, I love horses, how about a tiny miniature horse? She discarded the thought, then a year later, Lisa came up with the same idea! What is it they say about great minds?
Guess I will have to set my DVR to record The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills next season so I can keep an eye on our pretty pair! Stay tuned…
Lisa Vanderpump and Tina
The birthday boy, Ken Todd
Goldie and Galaxy with Lisa in the back yard
Their new home under construction
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