These San Antonio Ladies Are Not Horsing Around
We each define success differently. Some of us define it with material abundance. Wealth, expensive homes and cars, jewelry and designer clothing allow some women to show their success with tangible items. For others, it is about relationships, health and happiness, regardless of how much they have. For five dynamic San Antonio women, success is measured by the ability to follow their passions, and in this case, their passions are uniquely tied to their horses. These women live incredibly busy lives giving everything they’ve got to their careers, their families and the causes that are dear to their hearts, but they also have managed to pursue their love of horses, and their stories are amazing.
Dr. Elizabeth McRae
Enhancing Beauty for Humans and Horses Alike
Upon meeting Dr. Elizabeth McRae, she will excitedly tell you about her recent trip to Virginia for a no-kill fox hunt with her girlfriends. She will then will regale you with the story of how she rode a horse across the Steppes of Outer Mongolia, and lived in yurts, just last summer. When she finally gets around to telling you about the numerous U.S. Hunter Jumper Association competitions that she has participated in, as well as the many awards that she has won, you will finally understand that you are in the presence of a uniquely amazing woman.
As beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, Dr. McRae has dedicated her career to helping women, and men, enhance their physical beauty at her clinic, McRae Medical Laser Spa in Boerne. She studied internal medicine at Oklahoma State University and has practiced Advanced Laser Medicine and Aesthetic and Internal Medicine here in Texas since her residency in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been a member of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery since 2007. Dr. McRae published research for the ASLMS Journal in 2013 and has trained with specialists in the Laser and Aesthetic fields, along with plastic surgeons and dermatologists, bringing the latest techniques and medical advances to the Texas Hill Country.
Dr. McRae first discovered her love for riding horses as a young girl. She was born in Thierville, France, where her father was stationed in the U.S. Army. She grew up in Germany and Oklahoma, where she learned to ride Western style. Today, she and her husband, Patrick, own several horses of their own, including a colt from their own mare. Clementine is Dr. McRae’s competition horse. She is an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare who was the 2014 Reserve Champion in the U.S. National Hunter Derby, and together, Clementine and Elizabeth were the Zone 7 Champions for 2017, and Texas State Champions in the Adult Equitation competition.
Somehow, she finds the time to ride at least five times a week and takes time from her busy medical practice to travel the Hunter Jumper show circuit with her horses and her mobile medical spa, a 25-foot Airstream trailer called The Beauty Bug. Many of the competition riders keep their appearance in top form with Dr. McRae’s help. She is able to administer Botox and facial filler treatments from her mobile clinic, and often she is booked before she even arrives via Facebook appointments. This brilliant idea has allowed her to combine all of her passions to create another revenue stream while she rides and travels.
Back at the ranch in Boerne, Dr. McRae, and her husband enjoy caring for their German Warmblood horses, and keeping up with their three adult children. She rides now for the sheer pleasure of it.
She states that “When you are first learning to ride for competition purposes, you are striving so hard to do everything correctly. Now, it’s about riding to experience the moment, and the feel of the horse, and your surroundings. It’s about moving carefully and prayerfully, and not necessarily about knowing what you are doing and where you are going.”
When asked where her next adventure will take her, she lights up and tells you that she’d like to do an African safari on horseback through the Okavango Delta, and, “gallop alongside the giraffe and antelope.” I have no doubt that she will achieve this dream and find another, equally amazing experience to put on and check off her bucket list.
Learn more about Dr. Elizabeth McRae’s medical spa at www.mcraemd.net.
From Barrel Racer to Polo Enthusiast
Born in the heart of Cajun country, Ursula Pari grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana where an abundance of great food and her love of horses sparked her two lifelong passions. She was a winning barrel racer on the high school rodeo circuit, and she competed in both barrel racing and goat tying as a Broadcast Journalism major at L.S.U. in Baton Rouge.
As a budding news journalist, Pari found her first broadcast job in Portland, Maine, where she spent the first seven years of her broadcast career as a news anchor. A Southern girl transplanted to the cold northeast, she searched for anything that would connect her back to her roots. It was then that one of her colleagues told her about a local indoor polo club that was looking for riders, so she checked it out and fell in love with the horses and the sport. Pari rode for the Down East Polo Club and she, along with her fellow polo teammates, would travel extensively throughout the northeast competing in polo matches. It was also in Maine that she purchased her first two horses. She then brought them to San Antonio when her career led her to become a news anchor for KSAT-TV, where she has earned top ratings for the past 23 years.
Friendly and outgoing, Ursula balances her successful career while she raises two teenagers, Jackson and Georgia, and runs a hundred-acre ranch near Retama Park with her husband, Patrick McLeod. The ranch serves as the home to the San Antonio Polo Club, which Pari was instrumental in bringing back to the Alamo City.
“When I came to San Antonio and found out that the city’s polo club had died out several years before, I decided that it was my job to bring it back,” states Pari passionately.
The game of polo was created from a military cavalry training program. Many of the great cavalry officers, such as General McArthur and Teddy Roosevelt, trained right here at Fort Sam Houston. The San Antonio Polo Club is the oldest continually operating polo club in the country, and Pari, along with several dedicated polo enthusiasts, are on a mission to spread awareness about the sport and encourage young people to learn about the sport, and eventually compete.
“The horse was central to life here in San Antonio when the city was discovered 300 years ago. Our goal is to preserve a piece of San Antonio sports history with every event, and we hope the community realizes that polo is the one sport involving horses that remain relevant to our history.”
Ursula personally owns four horses of her own. They are all varying degrees of thoroughbred mixes, and they all compete with her in polo matches. She spends time at the ranch caring for the horses every day. She is amazed at the therapeutic effect that horses have had on her life, as well as the lives of others through the San Antonio Polo Club’s community outreach program.
“As a woman in a pretty competitive industry, horses have been my escape and my medicine. I have watched them heal abused and neglected children in mere hours, transforming a troubled, angry child into a smiling, affectionate and loving human being. As well, we’ve seen polo take that healing to a new level. It grows a child’s self-esteem, confidence and leadership skills. It teaches them how to communicate and guide a large animal, as well as fostering teamwork with the horse and other team members.”
When she is not riding, you can find Ursula in the kitchen honing the Cajun recipes that she learned from her grandmother. She is as passionate about cooking as she is about horses and plans to pass this tradition down to her children, just as she continues to keep the tradition of the Polo Club alive here in San Antonio.
The San Antonio Polo Club is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with the mission to bring polo back to the greater San Antonio area by promoting public education, awareness, and appreciation for the sport of polo, and to provide opportunities for underprivileged children to learn horsemanship and develop skills to play polo and build their self-confidence. They accept donations and welcome volunteers. Find out how you can help at www.sanantoniopoloclub.com.
A Mighty Force With A Love For The Miniature Horse
When Jane Macon enters a room, people take notice. She is a tiny dynamo with a kind word for everyone she encounters. Born in Kingsville, Texas, her grandmother was one of the first settlers in the area that now encompasses the massive King Ranch. She was one of only eighteen women in her graduating class at U.T. Austin’s School of Law in 1970, and today her impressive list of credentials and accolades could rival the most powerful leaders of our time.
Jane is a partner with the Bracewell Law Firm, a leading law and government relations firm primarily serving the energy, infrastructure, finance, and technology sectors throughout the world. She made history here in San Antonio when she became the first woman to serve as City Attorney from 1977 to 1983. Since then she has been appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Selective Service Appeal Board, and she has served as the President of the International Women’s Forum with Margaret Thatcher.
Both of Macon’s parents were educators, and her mother enjoyed a career as an educational consultant to several foreign countries. Throughout her life, she has lived in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), India, Thailand, and Spain, where she became fluent in Spanish. Her early law career took her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she served with the City Attorney on the Economic Development Committee and traveled into the remote and rural areas of the state to promote education and business development. Jane is a dynamic woman with volumes of amazing stories about her career and life experiences that will captivate and seduce you.
Jane had always loved to pet the great horses on the King Ranch as a child, and her love of horses was reignited during her time spent in England in the 1980s. It was here that she was introduced to the miniature horses that the royal family kept to entertain the children. A miniature horse is classified as being shorter than 34 inches at the withers. The breed began in Europe through the inbreeding of Shetland ponies and other breeds. The dwarf horses were used to pull carts in coal mines and were brought to the United States in the 19th century for the same purpose.
Today, many of the miniature horses you see come from the Falabella bloodline that was crossed with the Shetland, and bred in Argentina. Macon has followed these traditional breeding practices, and now houses her amazing collection of over 400 miniature horses on a ranch near Blanco, Texas. Alamo Miniatures Ranch is a magical place where these beautiful, yet diminutive equines, graze happily on Texas Hill Country grass.
“We breed our miniature horses to be on par with any full-sized horse,” Macon states proudly. “They are perfectly balanced horses.”
Jane is married to Larry Macon, also an attorney, who has competed in over 2,000 marathons in his lifetime. They live in Monte Vista with five dogs and a kangaroo! They do not have children, but as Jane puts it, “Our animals are our kids.”
Alamo Miniatures is open to the public on certain days, and Macon gets out to the ranch at least once a week to check on her herd of tiny horses. She has built quite a business over the years, all while living an incredibly busy life and creating a history of success that would humble the strongest over-achiever. She is most definitely a force to be reckoned with, and she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Breeding Olympic Champions and Preserving Texas History
When you first drive through the gates at Indian Creek Farm, you will feel as if you have driven into the sweeping grandeur of the opening scene of an epic movie. The rolling hills, the well-maintained fence lines, and the beautiful horses grazing in their paddocks lure you forward toward the main house and stables. This ranch is precisely what comes to mind when you envision paradise in Texas.
At the helm of this great enterprise is Christine Turner, a beautiful and vivacious lady, with a gracious heart and a passion for champion horses, preserving Texas history and antiques. Born in Pennsylvania, Turner moved often as a child but landed in Texas where she met her husband, Tom Turner Jr. (T.J.), here in San Antonio. She was the fourth Vice President of the San Antonio Conservation Society, which also serves as the chairman of N.I.O.S.A. She served in this capacity for over 17 years, until she skipped out on the city life to breed and train champion and Olympic competition horses.
“We specialize in breeding top quality sport horses with the hope that they will become Three Day Eventing/Dressage horses on an Olympic level,” states Turner.
A Three Day Eventing competition consists of three separate disciplines. Dressage is defined as “the art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance.” It is a refined and masterful pursuit of horsemanship perfection. The other two categories that comprise this event include Cross Country and Stadium Jumping. Turner does not personally compete with her horses at the professional level but relies on the expertise of her Olympic rider, Boyd Martin, and his wife Silva, an experienced Dressage rider. Along with their incredible team of trainers, managers, staff, and veterinarians, Boyd and Silva oversee the competition horses in Pennsylvania, while Christine and her crew manage the breeding and training programs at Indian Creek Farm.
Located in Bulverde on Highway 46, the ranch sits on land that was deeded to Deaf Smith, by the Republic of Texas, for his service as a courier sent to deliver a letter to Sam Houston when the Alamo fell. The land houses a home that was owned and built in 1874 by the Scheel family, who were some of the first German settlers to the area. They are buried on the property, along with several of their children. The modern home, inhabited by Christine Turner and her husband, T.J., was built, shotgun style, above the stables. Originally, the stables were used to hold sheep by the Scheels, and you can still make out the arrow slits, or narrow openings in the old exterior walls, where guns could be fired at approaching Indians. The property has much historical value and significance, and Turner is fighting the good fight to save her property and preserve its history. However,r there is a plan to widen Highway 46 into a six-lane highway in the near future, which would encroach significantly on the frontage of the property, bulldozing the original house, which has been restored by the Turners and also eliminating the ability to maintain their Cross Country training fields. The property would then be located too close to loud truck traffic, spooking the horses and hampering their ability to concentrate. Turner has not given up the fight, but it’s not looking good.
The breeding farm has only been in operation for 10 years, and already Christine Turner, Boyd Martin, and the entire team have taken home some very prestigious awards. Tsetserleg (Thomas) is an 11-year-old Trakehner and recently competed in the World Equestrian Games representing the United States. This particular horse has been recognized, from his breed registry, for his competition scores and was awarded $10,000 for his performance. Another outstanding horse in the Turner collection is Blackfoot Mystery (Big Red), a 14-year-old Thoroughbred who represented the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Turners have two daughters, Kelly and Tommie, along with two grandchildren, Bliss and Libby. Christine spends all of her time at the ranch, while T.J. carries on the legacy that his father started at TETCO in San Antonio during the week. They are an impressive family working hard to preserve the heritage of their beautiful land, and will hopefully be allowed to continue their breeding and training program for many years to come.
Get more information about the ranch and their champion horses at www.indiancreekfarm.com.
Promoting the Beauty of the Arabian and the Attributes of Her Clients
Katie Harvey was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, but as the bumper sticker states, she got to Texas as fast as she could. Moving to a small town outside of Waco at the age of two, her father relocated the family to start an Egyptian Arabian horse farm. She spent her childhood riding and caring for the horses, helping out in every area of the farm. Once she graduated from high school, she left her small town of China Spring to attend Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, where she studied Mass Communications and Advertising. Upon graduation, she settled in San Antonio, where she quickly started her own communications agency at the age of 24. KGBTexas Communications is still a thriving organization, and in January, the company will celebrate their 25th anniversary.
She spent the early years of her career building her company and surrounding herself with an outstanding team that shared her vision. “We are a full-service communications agency that focuses our efforts on clients and projects that have consequence in our communities,” states Harvey. Her office, located in the Full Goods Building at The Pearl, showcases her achievements, as well as her passions. A gorgeous stuffed bobcat sits atop a display case that houses her awards from various Arabian Horse competitions. The office is comfortable and inviting, just like Katie’s personality, and she is excited to tell you the story about shooting the bobcat on one of her many hunting trips.
When asked about her love for Arabian horses she states, “I lost interest in the horses and riding when I was about 14 years old. It wasn’t until my father gave me an Arabian horse as a wedding present, when I was 30, that my passion for the breed was reignited.” Since then, Harvey has won 15 U.S. and Canadian National Championship titles, along with being named Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association Working Western Amateur of the Year. She currently owns 14 Arabian and Half-Arabian show horses, and they are spread out around the country at various stables in Aurora, Ohio, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Burleson, Texas.
She is equally proud of her charitable work on behalf of the Arabian breed. She has rescued several Arabians from slaughterhouses, and she is involved with the Arabian Horse Distress Fund, which helps those among the Arabian horse industry when they need a “hand up”. The fund has helped those in need when unexpected life events debilitate a family, like cancer or wildfires. “This is how we take care of our own,” Harvey states, and many of the fundraisers for are incorporated into the horse shows. She also serves as the Vice President for the Arabian Professional Horseman Association, where her role is to, “Bring more people into the breed through promotion.”
Although she is an extremely busy professional, Katie does not lose sight of her blessings. She has been married to her husband, Jeff, a partner with the law firm Jackson/Walker, for 19 years now, and they have two boys, ages 15 and 16.
“God is good. He has given me so many opportunities to glorify Him through work, family, volunteerism, and giving. There have been so many people who have helped me along my career path as well as my equestrian path. I have tried to do the same, particularly helping women in business. I deeply believe that while you have your hand on a ladder up, you must also have your arm extended out to help others on their journey as well. It’s our responsibility, and I really take it seriously.”
Like the Arabian horse, which has evolved over time to acclimate to its surroundings, Katie Harvey has learned to grow and change with the times. She credits her success with the ability to surround herself with some of the most professional and creative people around. After 25 years in business, she has learned that a mature business needs great leadership, and it needs to change as the world changes. In her personal life and as a rider, she states that “Balance and timing are everything. You can’t teach it. It comes with experience.” This is one amazing lady who is actually practicing what she preaches and has already achieved a level of success that most people only dream about.
By Meredith Kay
Photography by Jason Roberts