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GromKiev (show results 2006)

Littlewood Circuit Finale Feb. 1-5 2006
Littlewood AA Circuit RESERVE CHAMPION


Littlewood A-T "AA" Children's Benefit
Jan.4-8 2006

Green Conformation...class of 9

Littlewood Pre-Festival AA
Jan,18-20 2006

CHAMPION Green Conformation..class of 18

Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic
Jan 25-29 2006

Green Conformation...class of 27


Kiev makes the NEWS in Palm Beach and Ohio!

For a fee of $40, Barb Gillis twists Kiev’s mane into braids before a competition in Florida.
Braider’s mane jobs get her into main event
Wednesday, March 01, 2006


That horse named Kiev — what a character.

So chipper at 4:30 a.m. Head bobbing. Hoofs pawing the stable floor.

"He’s a stallion," Barb Gillis says, as if that explains it all. "Sometimes when I ask him to move, it’s like he’s saying, ‘Only if you make me.’ "

Gillis and Kiev stand side by side in a Wellington, Fla., stable. It’s cold and dark, but Gillis has work to do. She’s a horse braider who primps animals for the Winter Equestrian Festival, eight weeks of shows that run through March 19.

Tradition requires that certain horses have their tails and manes braided. It looks so trim and tidy, you see.

Gillis wets the hair, runs a comb through the tangles and starts braiding a small clump of mane. Right over left, right over left. Her fingers fly.

In minutes, a tangle of horsehair forms a perfect parade of looped braids marching down Kiev’s back.

Kiev turns mellow, dozing a bit while Gillis works. The 5,000 show horses at Wellington are like veteran beauty-pageant contestants. Primping comes with the gig, and they’re used to it.

But like temperamental competitors, horses can get in a mood. They’ll try pushing Gillis into a stable wall. Or nature calls just as she starts braiding the tail.

For certain, the routine is harder on Gillis. The repetitive motion makes her finger joints ache. Yarn, woven into the braid, cuts her skin. Hour after hour, she stands on a two-step ladder to reach the mane.

When she has lots of clients, she’ll braid a dozen or so horses in one shift, working from 10 at night through the next morning. At 43, she has been at this for 20 years.

"Sometimes I think, ‘I can’t believe I’m still doing this,’ " she says. "But there’s a reason: I braid to support my horse habit."

Those 12-hour workdays help pay for her 60 seconds in the ring. But what a spectacular 60 seconds.

Gillis competes with 1,400 pounds of horseflesh named Marco. The goal: to jump over a dozen obstacles as cleanly and quickly as possible. Depending on the course, it takes horse and rider roughly one minute from start to finish.

Anyone spending time in the horse world knows it’s an expensive hobby. No trust-fund baby, Gillis counts on braiding to help pay her way.

Start with a $30,000 horse, though you can pay a little less or a lot more. Gillis pays $600 a month to board Marco in suburban Chicago, where she lives. Another expense is entrance fees to horse shows: $800 to $1,000 for a week of competition that includes a half-dozen chances to compete. Gillis competes in about 20 shows a year.

Plunked on a pony at age 5, she got hooked on horses. They’re big, warm and strong, more predictable than people at times and sometimes nicer.

She tried a 9-to-5 job for a few years in her 20s: accounting. She worked in a comfortable cubicle, not an unheated barn. She earned a steady paycheck rather than getting paid one horse at a time — $40 a mane, $30 a tail.

She hits Florida in the winter, where an abundance of braiding work helps pay for future competitions closer to home.

Gillis and Marco are in the jumper competition. Jumpers, incidentally, aren’t braided for competition.

Says Gillis: "I’m no fool."

Copyright © 2006, The Columbus Dispatch