Torree Heaton warming up on "Hartley" at shows in Hamilton (left), the Diamond N Ranch in Billings (center), and the Youth Stampede at Billings' Saddle Club (right).
Michelle Noland on "Yogi" at Hamilton (left), Billings' Youth Stampede (center), and waiting for an English class on "Bradley" (right) at the Stampede
Story & photos by Gary Noland
For the Pathfinder
July 2, 1998
"Walk and line up..." is the last instruction riders hear after they've put their horses through the walk, jog or trot, and lope routines in Montana Quarter Horse Show youth classes.
At that point, the class is almost over, and the judge is looking at his notes, making his final decision. It's a tense wait, but when it's announced, two young riders from Seeley Lake are usually up there in the top five, finishing frequently with a first or second.
Torree Heaton and Michelle Noland have brought home dozens of ribbons for the Horseshoe Hills Guest Ranch, Seeley Lake, where they train and ride at the ranch's arena facilities in the Kozy Korner area.
Last weekend the girls were in Hamilton, the fifth show they've entered since starting the summer circuit of weekend shows in early May.
In Friday's Novice Youth Western Pleasure and Youth Western Pleasure classes, with top horses and youth riders from Billings, Bozeman, Buttte, Missoula and other parts of the state, the two girls finished first and second behind each other in the two consecutive classes, with Michelle Noland first in the Novice class and Torree Heaton first in the Youth Class.
Those kind of finishes have earned the Seeley Lake girls, and their horses, the respect of Quarter Horse show people throughout Montana.
Torree, 16, with several first-place wins to her credit, finished this year's competition for Montana's World Youth team in second place in the Youth Western Pleasure classes riding Sonny's Hart Twister (Hartley) though she is unable to make the trip to Fort Worth in August because of an administrative error in allowable points, discovered only after the books were officially closed.
Michelle, 13, rides Magnolia Burner (Yogi) and recorded her first first-place win at Hamilton, but has a string of second to fourth place ribbons earned in shows this year. She also shows "Bradley," a big, four-year-old gelding who has great promise in English classes.
Hamilton was the first show this year where points begin to count for making the Montana Youth Team that goes to the 1999 World Youth Quarter Horse Show in Fort Worth, Texas next year, a goal both girls have in mind.