A Young Widow and a Horse


After I bought Gigi I boarded her a local facility outside of town. I was there almost every single day. It was the highlight of my days and it just didn’t feel complete until I at least checked on her. I was so grateful, and still amazed, that I finally owned a horse again after so many years.

Spending time with Gigi was like a form of meditation. No words were spoke and we were always in the present moment. No matter how much was happening or how I was feeling before I got to the barn, it would all fall away when I got to her. Even if I was having a tough emotional day, it was quickly overcome by the peace and focus that Gigi’s presence brought.

Eventually I would nickname her Super Gigi, not just because of barrel racing with her but because of the incredible impact she had on my life. She now even has her very own hashtag, #SuperGigi.

A lot of time together was spent riding, but the time spent together during her massages and PEMF blanket treatments was also a wonderful time of bonding and healing.

While I was moving forward with my life, I was still healing after the loss of my husband, Tyler. More than anything Gigi brought my focus to the present. She drowned out the pain in the past and worry of the future. She helped bring my focus to the blessings in the moment.

After being around horses for a while the magic can wear off and complacency can take it’s place. Some people don’t stop to think that this 1,000+ lb animal has the power to easily hurt you and that it is a pretty amazing thing that they allow us to do so much with them.

So many people have benefitted from the power of the acceptance and love felt by a horses willingness to trust and follow them. It is a powerful experience especially to people that have never interacted with horses.

Beyond those magical experiences, the energy of a horse is healing in itself. Just to sit quietly in their presence can drown out the world and break through even the most calloused of hearts.

It has now been over 2 years since I found Gigi and she has been a beautiful blessing to me. She continues to help me grow, to conquer fears, to take my own unique path and remind me to never give up. Every day I walk out to the barn and her whinny I am so grateful.

Horses are truly heart healers and Super Gigi has helped heal mine.

Never Give Up,





Barrel Horse Connect Contest and Our Story


Gigi and I’s Photo in Barrel Horse Connect’s Contest “Barrel Racing Inspiration”

Welcome everyone!

To get this blog started I will share a contest I am currently in put on by Barrel Horse Connect (https://www.facebook.com/barrelhorseconnect).

Here is the link to our entry: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=246372535525516&set=a.246372368858866.1073741855.154156031413834&type=3&theater

This is not just a photo contest! Every horse and rider in these photos has a story and they are sharing their challenges and triumphs along with their photos! I am so excited to have another chance to continue sharing our story and help others. Attached is our photo for the contest. Our story should be up here shortly. As usual, we need likes to win, but also take some time to read all the stories and get into that Thanksgiving spirit! There are some pretty amazing young ladies in this contest!

Here is the story I shared with the photo of me and Gigi at the Northern Nevada NBHA Finale Race:
In 2002, I left home just a few weeks after graduating from high school for Great Lakes, Illinois. I was headed to Navy boot camp and for the start of a new journey. I left heavy hearted, leaving my horses and dreams that I thought were unrealistic behind. I had been riding for years and participated in some open shows and a youth series in barrel racing, among other events. I was not competitive in the speed events, though I dreamed of it.As I headed to Great Lakes I had no idea I would meet my future husband, Tyler, there at Navy boot camp. He was the most accomplished and driven person I had ever met. He had a big goal, to be a Navy SEAL. When I met him he had already had quite a few accomplishments under his belt, but he was going for his ultimate dream. I never doubted that he would accomplish it!From that time forward we were inseparable and I was blessed to witness what true drive and determination can do. He achieved his dream of becoming a SEAL, something very few in this world will do. We were married five years after we met and spent almost another three living military life. I had finished my enlistment in the Navy and began working towards my goal of earning my college degree.In July 2010, everything changed, forever. Tyler was killed in a base jumping accident. One of his many passions was skydiving. I was devastated and lost from that day forward. It took me six months just to be able to really function again. The next six moths after that I worked toward living, not just existing. I managed to finish my degree with the support of our friends and the leverage of Tyler’s desire for me to graduate.

In 2012, I graduated from Regent University with a degree in Psychology. During that time I began to see that I still had the rest of my life ahead of me and I was now charged with living life fully for two. I became open to new experiences and opportunities. This timing was perfect, as I soon after met a man who made me believe that it was okay to go after my dreams and be happy.

I then moved to Nevada to explore those possibilities further with him, and fate took hold. Within a few months, I found and bought Gigi, my amazing mare. I completed an equine sports massage therapy course and went to my first jackpot ever with his support. Gigi and I got a few races in before the season ended, we didn’t do anything spectacular, but my heart was bursting in amazement that I even had a horse again, let alone that I was actually barrel racing!

Then, I started to notice that Gigi was having some gait issues and after visiting the vet found that she had Intermittent Upward Fixation of the patella. Barrel racing was out and I focused on rehab for Gigi and working on my horsemanship with an amazing trainer that just happened to be in my area. When you look back, it is amazing to see all the puzzle pieces come together.

I thought we might be out of racing forever and even bought another horse. By May, it was clear that Gigi was thriving and I took her around the barrels. She did amazing, no stifle issues and that was the start of our 2013 season.

We had terrible runs to start. In the 20’s and even 22’s. We kept at it. I tried to learn all I could and work on the mistakes I was making. I thought Gigi could be amazing if I could be a better rider for her. We never gave up, no matter how bad we did, and eventually we started to improve. We even went to Las Vegas, not because we were clocking great, but just for the experience. We did place in the 4D the first day though!

We won some money throughout the season, but what I wanted most was to win a buckle. Every race that had buckles that we attended, we didn’t win. But, then, at the end of the season, we won the 4D buckle in the Northern Nevada NBHA series! It was a dream come true! It was so satisfying to accomplish that goal.

As the season was winding down we were starting to get faster and I believed even more that we could be great team. We just recently made it to the 2D and I couldn’t have been more amazed or proud!

This whole journey has taught me many things, but a few that stand out are NEVER GIVE UP and you really have to BELIEVE that it is possible. Lastly, no matter your goal, enjoy the ride. Make sure to keep perspective and be grateful for your opportunities. I want to help others every chance I get and strive to inspire those that might be sitting where I was a year ago.

I feel blessed to have this opportunity after a ten year hiatus from horses and I am looking forward to what Gigi and I will achieve together in the future!


There are plenty of other great stories too if you have time go read them! In the meantime come visit to read more about what Gigi and I are up to.

Thank you for visiting!


Blessings, Chelsey Stimson