Leslie Lingle, avid horse rider, humanitarian

by Kate Belcher

An avid horse rider, Leslie Lingle hurt her back when she was around 23 years old and riding her quarter horse became too painful. So what does a horse lover do when riding no longer seems possible?

Lingle searched for an answer, and found it. She went over to a family friend’s stables and tried riding one of his Missouri Fox Trotters.

“I could barely walk, let alone ride,” said Lingle. “I went over and rode that pony a good mile down the road and came back smiling, and within a week I made arrangements to buy him.”

Lingle says that the Missouri Fox Trotter is so people-oriented and has the best personality and doesn’t have the spook factor that quarter horses and other breeds have.

The Missouri Fox Trotter is a gaited horse breed that originated in the United States during the 1800s with three standard gaits that include the fox trot, the canter and the flat-footed walk. Their gaits are so smooth to ride, the breed is popular with riders with neck, back and knee health issues.

The breed originated in the Ozarks where the pioneers and settlers pushing west created the breed from stock horses and gait horses, and the Missouri Fox Trotters quickly became known as the breed that could do anything. Pretty enough to pull a buggy but tough, agile and reliable enough to plow a field, work the cattle and be the family riding horse.

They are so popular that they’re one of the most popular horses in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. Even gamers love that horse.

Lingle shared a saying that when you go trail riding for eight hours with your quarter horse friends, they want to take a shower and go to bed, but after eight hours of trail riding a Missouri Fox Trotter, you want to take a shower and go out dancing, because the Missouri Fox Trotter don’t fatigue your body.

When talking about the versatility of the breed, Lingle said she lived on Diamond Mountain for three months while running cattle up there, and her Missouri Fox Trotter worked the cattle as good as any cattle horse out there.

“Years ago”, as she put it, Lingle won a silver buckle in a team penning contest with her horse.

When Lingle lived in Bluebell she said she was riding her horse about a mile north of the Bluebell store on a loop that she frequented. One day, while riding the loop, she became aware of a truck behind her, so she got off to the side of the road and stopped her horse.

The man rolled down his window and asked her not to stop riding, that he was enjoying watching the horse and then told Lingle that he had clocked her going at around 20 miles-per-hour. The ride was so smooth she didn’t realize how fast she was going.

While Lingle loves her Missouri Fox Trotter, she has a heart for other critters in need as well, even the human kind.

She has three Shetland ponies that have found their way into her life. One, Apache, is a rescue. Apache has a lot of personality and occasionally gets a case of the zoomies, running at full speed in the corral.

Her other two Shetlands are Little Man and Sir Winston. Sir Winston may be familiar to the people that have visited the Bluebell Corn Maze and stopped by to feed the unicorns. He is the one-eyed, one-horned genuine unicorn, at least for a few months out of the year.

Sir Winston has been visiting the Bluebell Corn Maze for the past two years and Lingle hopes he continues for many years to come.

“I have helped people with their animals, including training the horse and giving riding lessons to the owners, to help them better understand the workings of their horses mind and reflexes,” said Lingle. “I started training horses with my dad in my early teens, then as an adult I have done professional training on my own.”

Lingle had always done a lot of charity work. Circumstances and finances don’t allow her to do as much as she would like. Her time is what she volunteers these days when she can.

After hearing about that a local man who is wheelchair bound used to enjoy riding horses, Lingle was quick to offer to take him for a ride on PB, one of her Missouri Fox Trotters.

“Missouri Fox Trotters are a great horse for people with disabilities,” Lingle said. “They are so gentle and their gait really works well together to make riding a pleasure for those who would have difficulties with another breed of horse.”

Lingle’s face lights up when she talks about her passion.

“I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and love of all things horses,” she said. “I would like everyone to enjoy horses the way I do.”