Equestrians can develop impactful relationships with the people they encounter in the horse industry. The shared passion of horses is something special, and that is especially true among family members. Barbara and Billieanna Miranda are a mother-daughter duo from Summerfield, Fla., who both love horses, in particular Paso Fino horses.
Mom Barbara first got her taste for horses when her parents took her for pony rides as a child. When she was in college and had a full-time job, Barbara purchased her first horse, a Quarter Horse, at age 19. She was then introduced to Paso Finos.
“The farm that I was in, the gentleman who owned it, he would always ask me to ride his Paso,” said Barbara. “I would ride it and it was putting a smile on my face with the way that they moved.”
Barbara didn’t get her own Paso Fino until years later. She owned Quarter Horses from 1989 to 2000 before taking a break from riding. In 2007, the farm owner left her two horses when he passed away, one of which was a Paso Fino.
“When Billieanna was about two years old, she loved going to the farm, opening the gate, going up to the horses, and brushing them,” said Barbara.
Later on, Billieanna would play with Barbara’s tack that she found in their home. “My mom had horse stuff in the laundry room, and when I was younger, I would take it out of the laundry room and put it on a little chair and pretend I was riding a horse,” said Billieanna. “So my mom would be like, ‘We have to get back into the horses, because she obviously loves it.’”
Billieanna first started riding Quarter Horses, doing everything: dressage, cutting, jumping, and reining. Like most horse-loving children, she dreamed about having horses at home. “Billieanna got home one day and said, ‘I wish I had my horses in the backyard. After I get home from school and do my homework, I would go out and ride,’” said Barbara.
Billieanna’s comment got Barbara thinking that Billieanna was serious about her passion for horses, and it wasn’t just a phase. The family made the move from Miami to Ocala and took steps toward owning their own farm. “I leased a house with three acres for five years to make sure that I was going to be happy here,” explained Barbara. “At age seven or eight, Billieanna would wake up in the morning and go feed in her PJs. So, there you know the passion is there when they are that young. She would come home from school, do her homework, and go out and ride. Then we moved into our 10 acres that we have now.”
But Billieanna and Paso Finos weren’t an immediate match made in heaven. “When I first rode the Paso Finos, I was just like, ‘Oh, that’s not really riding,’” said Billieanna.
“She wasn’t so thrilled about it,” added Barbara. “It didn’t put a smile on her face because she was like, ‘What do you do here? You don’t even post. You don’t do anything. They do walk cute.’” Barbara purchased herself a Paso Fino as a trail horse, but Billieanna eventually started riding the Paso Fino more and more. “From 2016 to now, she has gotten into the Pasos, she has ridden many of them, and she loves them,” continued Barbara. “Now she realizes that it’s not just sitting there. There’s more leg work, there’s the feeling of the Paso and if they’re in gait or not.”
Now mother and daughter both are big fans of Paso Finos. “When I think of the Paso Fino, I think of them as having an extra gear,” said Billieanna. “They can walk, trot, and canter, but they also have that little extra gear that they can go into the gait and have the smoothness and all that stuff that makes them unique.”
“With their gait, you can go on trail rides and your back won’t hurt when you are my age,” said Barbara. “Anybody can ride them. They are not only show horses; they are trail horses. They are versatile.”
Their shared enjoyment of Paso Finos took Barbara and Billieanna’s relationship to another level. “We go to shows together,” said Barbara. “I taught her equitation. I have been her coach. She is just my right hand, left hand, tail, my little buddy. We go trail riding together. It is great to have her enjoy my same passion.
“We are close,” continued Barbara. “I wouldn’t say I’m her best friend, because I am her mom, but we are very close. The horses have gotten us very close. Just sharing the same passion is amazing. I’m trying to enjoy the time with her the most that I can, because she is already grown. She has got one more year left of youth and high school, and then she will be an adult and she will be on her way to college. I’m just trying to enjoy every little moment.”
“She says she’s not my bestie, but she’s my bestie,” said Billieanna. “My mom is my rock. And I am very blessed to have her enjoying the same passion as me. Although we also play volleyball together, the bonding is just more special on top of a horse, riding side by side on a trail. Hearing her cheering for me on the rail and seeing her joy of watching me show makes me a winner even if that day I did not place. Barbara Miranda is my manager, my equitation coach, my advisor. But the best part is that she is my mom and we share a special bond all because of horses.”
“She’s my coach as well,” added Barbara. “When I ride her horses, she teaches me.”
“Oh my gosh, that’s funny,” laughed Billieanna. “Whenever she decides to just hop on and practice, I’m her coach. Roles switched!”
“The student has learned more than the teacher,” said Barbara.
In 2018, Billieanna’s “heart horse” came in the form of a gray Paso Fino stallion named Fantastico del Encanto. “You name it, I did it with him. He was very, very versatile. He was also Fino as well, so that shows you that Fino horses can also be versatile with how short-stepped they are,” said Billieanna of Fantastico, a Paso Fino who excels at the classic fino gait, which is full collection with very slow forward speed. The pair would trail ride, carry the American flag at horse shows, and demonstrate the Paso Fino breed at exhibitions. “He was the definition of a Paso Fino can do anything being Fino because he wasn’t a pleasure horse. In 2020 at Nationals, he made it to the top five Fino stallions in the nation in the championship. We shared a lot of memories together and he was the best,” said Billieanna.
Unfortunately, Fantastico passed away suddenly at a horse show in 2021. “He was the horse that made her and she made him,” said Barbara. “Billieanna got to be really known with that gray horse and not only in the Paso Fino world but in other breeds because she would take him wherever she was able to show off the Paso Fino. She would take him to other breed shows for other people to try him out. That’s the biggest relationship that my daughter has had with a horse.”
Horses have taught Barbara and Billieanna important life lessons. “The life lessons that we have both learned is cherish your horse,” said Barbara. “You never know when it is going to be your last ride. She went through that.”
“Being a horse person means a lot of responsibilities and teaches you, especially growing up with the horse, teaches you a lot of responsibility,” said Billieanna. “In a way it gets you ready for when you are older because when you are older you have a lot of responsibilities. You have to wake up early in the morning to get to work, like how you have to wake up early in the morning to go feed the horses.”
Billieanna has big goals and a bright future ahead of her. She has learned much from horses with lots of help from her mom Barbara. Their shared passion for horses has brought them closer together. One thing is certain that Barbara will be ringside for Billieanna’s big goals in 2022 and beyond.