In Loving Memory of Nathaniel Wagler

Ontario Quarter Horse Association Inc.

Issure of August 2009

OQHA Article

-by Shawna Crawford

Nathaniel Wagler should be an inspiration to us all. Diagnosed with cystinosis at the age of 10 months, he continues to show his halter gelding, Playgirls Best, despite his health issues. He attributes his coping ability of this rare disease to his passion for horses. Nathaniel is the eldest of 5 children with 3 sisters and 1 brother. He and his brother were both diagnosed with cystinosis as infants and each underwent kidney transplants. Nathaniel was just 9 years old when he received his transplant.

The Wagler family own and operate Colonial Brick & Stone Inc. in Brunner, Ontario. Nathaniel put a large amount of his time and effort into managing the stone production facility as long as his health allowed. Nathaniel was introduced to Quarter Horses at the age of 16 when his father took a horse in on trade for some stonework he had done. She was a kind and gentle mare that gave Nathaniel countless hours of enjoyable trail riding. A few years later he looked into breeding her and contacted Pete and Sharon Hammer to inquire about stallions. They in turn introduced him to George Laidlaw and Just Plain Awesome.

He had 2 foals out of this mare, one by Just Plain Awesome, and later bred that foal, Awesome Sweetheart, to the Hammers stallion, Designed by Secret. Although Nathaniel’s first ambitions were to show in performance classes, with his illness he quickly realized that he would not have the strength to ride, and decided halter would be a better fit. The Hammers introduced him to Larry Johnson, who helped him fit, Sure Smooth Gold, a mare that Nathaniel began showing in 2004. Health issues forced him to sell this great mare. Nathaniel is happy to report that “Smoothie” loves her new owners, Christine and Becca Diebel and he thanks them for giving her a great home. Larry sold him a yearling colt, Playgirls Best, by Playgirls Conclusion. Nathaniel continues to show this gelding. His proudest moment involving horses was this past July, when he and his horse won Amateur 3 and Over Geldings Circuit Award at Summerama. This was extremely special to Nathaniel. With his health declining, he didn’t think he would be well enough to show.

Days before the show, he rested as much as possible. En route to the show pen, adrenaline pumping, Nathaniel’s unwavering desire to compete kept his energy level up allowing him to make it through the classes. Nathaniel and his family appreciate the extra work Larry has done with his gelding.

Noticing Nathaniel’s strength declining, he trained his horse to respond to softer commands which allowed Nathaniel to continue doing what he truly enjoys; showing his horse. This was very important to Nathaniel, as he would had to give up showing since Playgirls Best is more of an aggressive type of horse.

If you have ever met Nathaniel, you know how kind and generous he is. I have had the privilege of showing with Nathaniel on numerous occasions over the past couple of years, and I must say that he is an amazing young man and truly inspiring. Dealing with an incurable and rare disease, he continues to look at everything with a positive attitude. You can’t help but smile when you are talking with him. He and his family are also generous sponsors of Area 1 Promotional Club and continue to donate beautiful stone sculptures for All-Around Circuit Awards.

Nathaniel would like to recognize a few horse people who have made a significant impact in his life; Pete, Sharon and Jessica Hammer, Jan and Risty Schmidt, Larry Johnson and family, Jonathan Newnham, Todd and George Laidlaw, Ed Kletke, Alicia Decou, Doug Campbell, Ken McLellan, Rick and Julie Leek, and many others.

A quote from Nathaniel:

“I would not be having the enjoyment and success I am having, if it weren’t for my trainer and fitter, Larry Johnson. He does a very good job for me. The American Quarter horse is a wonderful animal. I have met many people, and made many friends, people that I would have never met if we didn’t share the same interest. I want to wish everyone the best as you show you Quarter Horses for many years to come. When life brings you an opportunity, take it. You never know if that opportunity will come again. Take time for the people around you. They end up being one of your biggest blessings. I would also like to thank the Ontario medical field and my family for all they have done for me.”

We would like to congratulate Nathaniel on all of his successes and thank him for his support and dedication to OQHA and the American Quarter Horse. We wish him many more years of showing!

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