- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A St. Paul trainer took an untrained horse and turned him into a national champion in eight months.

Jerusha Steinert and her 4-year-old Nokota named Mesabi Warrior bested about 30 other competitors to take grand champion honors in the American Horsewoman’s Challenge.

Contestants had eight months to turn an unbroken horse into a show-ready equine, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1wXfc0A ). The event in Oklahoma was open to women trainers from the U.S. and Canada.

“She went up against some of the top horsewomen in the United States and she showed them how it was done,” said Jim Hutchins, the competition’s organizer and producer. “People should be incredibly proud of her accomplishment. The entire (horse) community should be proud of what she’s done.”

This was the inaugural run for the three-day competition held in October.

The 34-year-old Steinert has been a trainer since 2006 and a horsewoman most of her life. At best, she hoped to break the top 10.

“I was so floored that I won because usually, when I do whatever I want to do, people think it’s weird,” Steinert said with a laugh.

She plans to enter next year with another Nokota, sponsored by a spectator who was taken with Mesabi. Steinert said she hopes her win will bring attention to the breed.

The Nokota breed is descended from wild horses that once roamed the badlands in western North Dakota, according to the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

The Nokotas are known to be “small, hardy and quick,” she said. “They have sensitivities and intuition and a social structure so much different than domestic horses.”

Steinert met Mesabi Warrior in Texas during a clinic. He’s gentle, playful, not particularly dominant and solid, she said. She had trained one Nokota before him.

The breed hasn’t reached mainstream popularity. There are only about 1,000 of the horses registered with the conservancy.

“They’re not horses for everybody,” Steinert said. “They don’t suffer fools. But they’re very compassionate, and they tend to be one-person horses. They bond.”

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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