A SHOOTING STAR
By Cris Van Horn and Lt. Randall Wallace
Tribute to Charlotte, Houston Police Department Patrol Horse and Tennessee Walking Horse Ambassador
03/15/2009 – 12/03/2015
Gen’s Shaking Ice (aka “Charlotte”) out of Michelle Marble’s Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) stud, It’s My Destiny, and Cris Van Horn’s TWH mare, Gen’s Ice Capade, was born in South Carolina on March 15, 2009, then raised in Oklahoma by Cris at the Two Clouds Dancing Ranch. Charlotte was a stunning, deep copper Chestnut with flaxen main and tail, standing all of 16.3 hands high and a shining example of the Tennessee Walking Horse temperament that people all over the world love.
After much research on mounted patrol programs, Cris donated Charlotte in December 2012 to the Houston Mounted Patrol program to become a police horse (http://www.houstontx.gov/police/mounted/patrol). Charlotte was formally accepted into the program when she turned five (5) in March 2013. Charlotte was initially assigned to Lt. Randall Wallace for training, which was very comprehensive, considering she had never been under saddle. Lieutenant Wallace started her from the ground up, literally, using Parelli Natural Horsemanship methodology to build a relationship with Charlotte. Using love, language, and leadership in equal parts, Lt. Wallace and Charlotte built a bond that only horsemen and women understand. All of his efforts to build a relationship paid off in gaining her trust and building her confidence. Charlotte went from green, to patrolling in 6 months, as her first day on patrol in a neighborhood with Lt. Randall Wallace occurred on June 27, 2013. She then went on to Memorial Park in Houston on July 4th, where she demonstrated her courage crossing a bridge and separating from her Mentor horse. On July 5th, Wallace reported that Charlotte was “simply awesome” on her first trip to downtown Houston. On a scale of 1 to 10, he gave her a 10 for her first day in the city. Wallace said she was extremely curious, and showed no fear of anything he exposed her to, including vehicular traffic, the light rail train, buses, 18-wheelers, steps (both up and down), narrow passages, bicyclists, fountains, etc… Wallace said Charlotte is a VERY left brained horse, meaning she is very calm and confident, and thinks things through, instead of going right brained, snorting, turning, and bolting away. July 9th was Day #2 in downtown Houston for Charlotte and Wallace said she did awesome again. She wrote her first ticket that day to an ex-con, vagrant for sitting on the sidewalk on Main Street.
On August 15, Lt. Wallace said, “Oh my gosh! I wish I would have kept a journal! She is doing amazing. I took her downtown Tuesday and patrolled alone, and she did fabulous. She ran up three steep flights of stairs like she’s been doing it all her life. She backed up a flight of stairs on her first try. She wrote 8 tickets and never broke a sweat in 100 degree weather. She isn’t scared of anything.”
In September 2013, Charlotte participated in her first parade downtown, and acted like she had done a hundred of them. She worked her first protest the following October and was in the Houston Thanksgiving Day parade in November. With her unflappable “horsenality,” willingness to please and overall awesomeness, Charlotte was used as a mount for dignitaries at various functions. Because of her high confidence level, she was also used as a Mentor horse on first trips to downtown for new horses coming into the Houston Mounted Patrol program. All of these accomplishments were within the first year of her being under saddle—absolutely amazing!!!
Charlotte’s influence spread across the nation. She was the impetus behind a myriad of relationships that were forged with the Houston Mounted Patrol. Because of Charlotte, the Houston Mounted Patrol received other equine donations: Virginia Wagoner of War Bonnett Equine Rescue in Oklahoma donated Smash; Linda Hinrichs of Oklahoma donate her Missouri Fox Trotter gelding; Lori Northrup of New York donated two gaited John mules; and Bobbie Jo Lieberman, former editor of Trail Blazer magazine, donated the very talented Tennessee Walking Horse mare, Illusion.
Charlotte was also the inspiration behind many educational endowments to the Houston Mounted Patrol program. Allen Pogue and Sue De Laurentis, Master Trick Trainers at Imagine a Horse, donated training and a student slot for Officer Greg Sokoloski to a residential trick training course at the Red Horse Ranch. Also through Charlotte, the Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH), and Jeannette Wright at Firehawk Ranch facilitated Sgt. Leslie Wills attending a Jillian Kreinbring Equine Biomechanics clinic. The crowning event was an equine and rider biomechanics clinic in November 2014 at the Mounted Patrol headquarters made possible by a liaison among FOSH; the Houston Mounted Patrol; Peggy Cumming’s Connected Riding® and its senior instructors Deb Davies of Equine Self Expression and Jillian Kreinbring of JK Inspired; and the “Now That’s A Walking Horse” grant program of the Humane Society of the United States. The officers learned the importance of developing their horses’ postural muscles and becoming active riders for the health and longevity of their patrol horses. Very few horses have had the far reaching impact that Charlotte achieved in her few short years with the Houston Mounted Patrol.
Charlotte continued to fight crime in the streets of Houston with her last partner, Officer D. Herrejon through all of 2015, until December 3rd, when she had a very unfortunate and untimely mishap with a concrete truck. As the truck was coming to a stop, Charlotte backed into one of the wheel wells and sustained a broken leg. Officer Herrejon received three broken ribs, and a possible torn rotator cuff and possible torn ligament in his left knee. While Officer Herrejon was being transported by ambulance, his human partner that day, Officer Ronald Curry, laid her down and covered her face, staying with her through her last breaths when she was euthanized on the scene.
Even though Charlotte’s time on earth was very short, she served bravely and willingly for the three years. She patrolled the streets of Houston and fought crime with her human partners. She touched the lives of many all over the world who followed her accomplishments. She was a wonderful addition to the Houston Mounted Patrol and an absolutely stellar ambassador to the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. While her life was like a shooting star, she will always shine brightly in the hearts of all who loved and knew her. Godspeed over the rainbow bridge, precious Charlotte. We will meet again.
Charlotte was nominated by the Houston Mounted Patrol to have her portrait painted by Artist Loreen Pantaleone under the Hero Portrait Project. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to this worthwhile cause, please contact The K9/Equine Hero Portrait Project, PO Box 327, Benton, PA 17814-0327 or donate electronically at http://www.k9heroportraitproject.org/donate.html.