2023 theswiftrunner home header sepia
2023 theswiftrunner home header sepia

From the High Country to Center Ring

by Denise Hearst

On the finals day at Scottsdale this year, I was chatting with friends on the rail and watching the Signature Stallion Yearling Fillies. When the beautiful Reserve Champion Filly, WA Mi Amor'(Dominic M x WA Klassic), was announced all I heard was that the breeder/owner was from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I thought I knew everyone with Arabians in Santa Fe, but I did not know this lady – Cindy Waterworth. So I intercepted her and we got to chatting. That’s when I found out that not only does she breed pretty and functional athletes, but she also packs into the Pecos Wilderness with her Arabians, hunting elk and deer.  

She’s well known in northern New Mexico as the owner of “The Backhoe Lady,” which provides excavation services – her second career after serving as a police officer in Las Cruces and a police captain Santa Fe, New Mexico. As she says, “I bury a lot of horses, but people appreciate the fact that I can relate to their loss. We do a lot of work on movie sets, too. For instance the movie '3:10 to Yuma' was filmed here – we helped set up the short stretch of railroad track that was in several of the scenes.”

I am still filled with awe and wonder for my filly.

When Cindy was a child growing up in Minnesota, she saw a picture of a dapple grey Arabian gelding that was being given away at a local gas station. “The picture of the horse was so beautiful,” says Cindy. “At the time I had a pinto mare, my first horse, but she didn’t look anything like that dapple grey. Between the gas station giveaway and the black stallion books, I was struck by the beauty and grace of the Arabian horse. It took a number of years before I bought my first Arabian at the age of 16. I had saved up and finally had the money to buy a chestnut yearling filly. She was absolutely beautiful with a wonderful floating trot. By this time I was totally hooked on the Arabian horse. I especially loved that they were so smart!” 

Cindy has been breeding Arabians for 50 years, focused on improving the results every year. “After all these years, I still have Arabians. My breeding stock are in Phoenix with my trainers, Golden Ridge Farms and Arabians International, while my riding/working Arabians are here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love to watch them run in their three-acre pen, tails up in the air, heads high, drinking the wind! It makes me smile every time.”

 Cindy had a beautiful foundation mare, Klassic Maiden IA (Fairview Klassique x SES Mahala), who produced WA Klassic by Ajman Moniscione. “WA Klassic is absolutely perfect,” says Cindy. “She is the dam of this year’s unanimous Scottsdale Reserve Champion Signature Stallion Yearling Filly, WA Mi Amor, sired by Dominic M and shown by Angie Sellman.

“This year’s Scottsdale Signature class had 60 entries, all fillies by top stallions, so there were 60 of the best fillies in the world!” continues Cindy. “I am still filled with awe and wonder for my filly. 

“WA Klassic is back in foal to Dominic M and we’re also breeding her via ET to EKS Alihjandro. I bred Klassic to EKS Alihandro previously and she produced a beautiful colt who was sold. WA Klassic has also produced foals by Royal Asad and Trussardi. All have had beautiful heads and bodies, with correct conformation, but this yearling filly is the crème de la crème.

It is the bond of trust that is formed with her horses in the high country that really makes Cindy light up.

As much as Cindy loves the showring, it is the bond of trust that is formed with her horses in the high country that really makes her light up. “I ride as much as possible,” she says. “All of my Arabians here in Santa Fe are broke to ride and broke to hobbles, and all know how to carry a pack saddle and a load. When I hunt, they carry in my camp and me, and if I’m fortunate enough to get a deer or elk, they carry out my game. Any one of them can pack into or out of the wilderness, and I don’t have to worry about them getting too far away. However, they proved me wrong on one trip where they ‘hobbled’ quite aways from my camp, all uphill. I had put a bell on the mare, but did I mention they’re smart?  She had tucked the bell so it didn’t ring and wasn’t any help to me in finding them. A twig had caught on the old lead rope I’d left on one of them, so they were ‘tied’ and I found them at the top of the ridge in dark timber. It was a good thing I knew the area well!  

“Once on a hunting trip, I’d gotten my deer and had it packed on my horse – the gelding Mats Heritage (Matrifikt x Heritage Missy). I was leading him back down to the truck and trailer at the parking area. I thought I had taken a shortcut to get back down sooner since the daylight was waning. I left my jacket at my camp thinking that I’d be back at the truck shortly. But as things go, we got into ferns that covered a lot of dead and down lodgepole-type trees. We lost daylight tripping over the downed trees, and the night caught us. Before it got really dark, I found a fairly level area at the base of a really large pine tree. The area was big enough for Mat to stand level and that was about it. We were both tired, and it was a cold late September night in the high country. 

“They’re horses! It’s just what they do."

“I pulled out my space blanket from my backpack, sat down with my front legs stretched out in front of my gelding’s front legs and leaned against the tree. Fortunately it didn’t get colder than 40 degrees, and the blanket helped keep the chill out. Three times during the night my boy nuzzled the top of my head as if to say ‘are you okay?’ It was the sweetest thing. I’d look up and he’d be looking around as if standing guard. He never moved, never jumped, which could have broken my legs since they were right at his front feet. At daylight we continued down to the truck.

Mi Amor2024 unanimous Scottsdale Reserve Champion Signature Stallion Yearling Filly, Mi Amor (Dominic M x WA Klassic, bred and owned by Cindy Waterworth and shown by Angie Sellman.

WA Klassic, dam of WA Mi Amor.

american style 4680Cindy astride her mare American Style IA (Psyches Legacy x Amerikan Dream by Magic Dream). She’s now 19 years old and is the dam of the U.S National Top Ten Two-year-old sColt, GR Khamelot by GR Kharmello.

american style and mat s heritage 2045American Style, left, with the bay gelding, Mat S Heritage (Matrifikt x Heritage Missy). “This is at my camp at 10K elevation, says Cindy.

CindyCindy in her element.

Packing outPacking out – WA Diamonte (Psyches Rey x Klassic Maiden IA) in the forground.

7 cindy hunting 8841Cindy and a Mule deer on the last day of the hunt with a muzzle loader. American Style packed him out.

Cindy dozerYes, Cindy knows how to operate a dozer.

“On another trip in the Pecos wilderness I got this big bull elk up there, a 6 by 7. He was on a steep hillside but fortunately he got hung up on a 1” diameter branch and it held him there; otherwise he would have gone down and down. I got him all quartered out and deboned. Otherwise it’s too much weight – he was about 900 to 1,000 pounds. I got all the meat on the horses. Fascinating thing about this old elk, he had no hip joint on his left side. It was all worn out. They figure he was 8-9 years old.

10 elk head

“I wanted to put him on my wall. I tried to get the caped head up onto my mare, since she was the shortest, but I couldn’t lift it any higher than her shoulder. The hide on the back of that elk was probably 1-1/2 – 2 inches thick. I went through three hunting knives getting him butchered out. Right about then these two Texas guys came walking up the trail. They said, 'We heard you shoot.'  They offered to help me load up the head. And yes, it is now on my wall.”

 “My attitude has always been ‘pretty’ doesn’t eat any more than ‘ugly.’ So why not have pretty while you’re at it?

Cindy is often asked if she worries about riding valuable horses up into the mountains. “My attitude has always been ‘pretty’ doesn’t eat any more than ugly.’ So why not have pretty while you’re at it? Arabians were once ridden into battle, after all! You saddle them up, you put your saddle bags on, you’ve got your canteen and you pack your lunch and you just go. They’re horses – it’s what they do! I’ve also had people say, ‘You’ve got to get them used to the smell of blood or they will freak out.’ I have never in my life had that problem with an Arabian horse. 

9 laying in hay 7245Relaxing out in the hay at the end of a long day – with WA Diamonte .

“Let the horses be horses. Do what I do with them – take them out, use them as horses, not just going around a showring. Horses are meant to be ridden. I am a firm believer in ‘No foot no horse.’ My farrier comes every six-eight weeks to make sure that my horses’ feet are good. I have the best feet on my horses. I feed them well. I make sure they get wormed on a regular basis, I do their teeth, and make sure they have plenty of exercise.

“I will keep breeding to produce the best, most beautiful, and correct Arabian horses I possibly can. Meanwhile I turn them out on their three acres and they just run out there...and I love on them. This winter they’ve been living like horses. I throw out a round bale and come in the house and have a hot chocolate! Life is good…with good horses.”


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Denise Hearst
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Betty Finke
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Cindy Reich
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Johanna Ullstrom
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Scott Benjamin
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Jeffrey Wintersteen
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