This column is dedicated to Nya Bates, an Idaho horsewoman who changed the lives of people and horses from California to Tennessee and from Florida to New England, as well as offering vital teachings to literally hundreds of horses and humans in the Gem State.
Nya lived near Kuna but traveled all over the country giving clinics and private lessons for gaited horse lovers. She judged numerous shows and held countless clinics all over Southern Idaho as well as conducting trainings near her home, at the annual Idaho Horse Expo in Boise and all across the country.
She traveled internationally for Friends of Sound Horses, FOSH, and helped lead the charge against the heinous practice of soring horses for the show ring. Meanwhile, she conducted very carefully orchestrated breeding and rescue programs that paired fabulous horses with their perfect people. Then, she was always available to answer any questions and freely offer advice. Money mattered little to her in comparison to assuring a happy horse-owner relationship.
She bred only the best bloodlines but was no snob about any horse’s lineage. A $20,000 horse was treated the same as one saved from slaughter at the auction. After a few training sessions, few people could tell which came from where.
Nya stressed the importance of understanding the horse and..if unsure..giving the animal the benefit of the doubt. She urged every horse owner who crossed her path to learn more, read more, ride more and trust the horse more.
She was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and given only weeks to live. Her determination and dedication to improving horses and their owners prevented her from giving in to the dread disease. Instead, she redoubled her efforts on the horses’ behalf and was riding and teaching until almost her last day, which was Jan. 7.
Nya’s vast equine expertise and disarming honesty attracted a wide variety of students. One of my favorite memories is sitting down to dinner at her home with a Baptist from St. Anthony, a Mormon from Rexburg, Nya, a Messianic Christian, and myself, a Bahai. The best of individual beliefs melded seamlessly as we bowed our heads and thanked the Almighty for the opportunity to share our love and Nya’s endless knowledge of horses. That binding ingredient was the common denominator that brought all sorts of folks to her.
I hope we will carry on her compassionate teachings about horse-human relationships. All who knew her truly were the better for it…as were their horses. I’m confident Nya is riding across the Rainbow Bridge on her beloved stallion, Larry, who went ahead to mark the path.
Nya, we will miss you terribly but your priceless teachings will go on benefiting all who were fortunate enough to meet you. Prayers and thanks to her family for sharing her with us all these years