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The weekend of May 20th found the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville, Indiana fairly flooded with miniature horses. The AMHA Hoosier Gold show featured 172 different classes of competition featuring tiny. miniature horses.

Miniature horses, when photographed without anyone or anything else in the picture, could be mistaken for their full-sized counterparts. The little steeds are perfectly proportioned when they are in show shape and are judged on all of the same criteria.

“I think probably what would surprise people the mist is the versatility of them,” said former AMHA President Joe Kahre as he stood by the show ring on Saturday morning. “There are so many things they can do. They’re great starter horses for kids, and they’re great finishing horses for us old people. In between they’re just enjoyable.”

The versatility of the miniature horses can’t be overstated. The miniature horses go over disproportionately towering fences on lead lines, pull carts with full-sized drivers, and everything else equestrians can dream up.

“Everybody thinks that just because you can’t ride them, there isn’t much you can do with them,” said Brookanna Pickett as she tended to her blue-ribbon-winning champion named Ricky (his show name is much longer). “You can do a lot with them.”

The competition is at once serious and friendly between these tiny horses and their handlers.

“We’re competitive in the ring,” said Kahre. “We come out, we’re friends. You have almost an extended family of people. When you have troubles they’re there for you. When you have triumphed, they’re there rejoicing. It’s great.”

Members of the Indiana National Guard Caisson Platoon volunteer to serve in the guard’s ceremonial unit, saddling up their horses to mark the death of an Indiana National Guard member, and give a final tribute to their service.

“My first actual interaction with the unit was my own grandfather’s funeral when he was pulled by caisson,” First Lieutenant Wesley Fluke said as the platoon trained for its upcoming appearance at the Indianapolis 500. “That’s something that obviously stuck with me for a very long time. I’m really excited and glad that I can give back and help those families and soldiers as well.”

Fluke volunteered for the Ceremonial Unit at least in part because he always romanticized the idea of being in the saddle. Fluke, though, is a mountain of a man who missed out on horseback riding because of his sheer size.

In addition to performing funeral services, the Caisson Platoon is called upon to make appearances in parades and at big events such as the Indy 500. That event, though, poses unique challenges to the platoon as it is loud, crowded and includes screaming combustion engines. The Caisson Platoon steeds, while big, calm, and confident, remain prey animals that can be startled by any sudden sound or sudden movement.

“They listen to their riders very well. They listen to us. The more time we get to spend out here with them, the more they get to know us, and they trust us.” Fluke said calmly.

There was a paternal tone to the Lieutenant’s voice when talking about the horses. The Caisson Platoon members all share that sentiment. They love serving with the giant beasts of burden. Staff Sergeant Hannah Smith grew up riding at the Woods Equestrian Center in Columbus, Indiana. Now that the Caisson Platoon has moved its tack to the Woods, her equestrian life has come full circle. Smith was looking forward to Memorial Day and the somber role she and her comrades play in acknowledging those who served and died.

“It’s a good time to just kind of step back and be grateful for the opportunity we have to serve, and the people who have come before us to serve. Just kind of recognize everything that they’ve done and paved the way for us and obviously, it’s very humbling to see all the gratitude from civilians as well,” Smith said as she stood in the outdoor arena at the Woods against a backdrop of working horses.

Sergeant Smith is among a group of soldiers seemingly finding themselves by losing themselves in service to others.

“Would you like a cup of coffee,” Mayor Jim Brainard asks as we enter a conference room adjacent to his office in Carmel City Hall. I had been told of Brainard’s graciousness and the longtime public servant lives up to the billing right away.

I set up my discussion with the man who serves as mayor in one of the best cities to live in America last year after he announced he would not seek another term. Originally, it was just going to be a meeting between a Carmel resident and the mayor, but I later asked if we could make the meeting a television interview and the mayor consented.

Nearly 30 years ago when Carmel elected the Republican mayor, nothing short of a revolution began. It was a transformation rooted in door-to-door research conducted by Brainard himself.

“I asked people whose doors I knocked on what their dreams, hopes, and aspirations were for their community,” Brainard says earnestly.

“We want a traditional city. We want a place with a downtown. We want a safe community with public amenities and parks where people can meet their neighbors,” he says.

What followed were decades of well-planned growth. A community that had once been a series of subdivisions and strip malls evolved into a beautiful, walkable, European-styled city with a downtown filled with restaurants and entertainment venues. The successful growth was a direct result of Brainard’s preparation.

Brainard had won the 1995 Republican primary and was unopposed in the general election, giving him seven months to prepare for his new job. He started by writing to universities with city planning curricula.

“I wrote a letter,” Brainard says with a smile. “An actual physical letter.”

“I asked for the syllabi for those courses, the basic courses,” the mayor says, recalling his task. “When I saw a book that was listed more than a couple of times, well then I thought I need to read that book.”

Brainard’s research informed his decision to replace countless intersections with roundabouts. While residents and visitors alike often joke about the many roundabouts in Carmel, there is empirical evidence the roundabouts are dramatically safer than the intersections of a bygone era.

“At a roundabout, everyone has to slow down,” Brainard maintains. “So, it’s better for younger drivers. It’s better, and safer for older drivers. There’s more response time.”

With Brainard retiring at the end of the year, four declared candidates are each seeking to replace him. Republicans Sue Finkham, Fred Glynn, and Kevin “Woody” Rider, as well as Democrat Miles Nelson. Brainard doesn’t hesitate when asked which candidate he’d like to see succeed him.

“For the Republican primary, I’m going to endorse Kevin “Woody” Rider,” Brainard makes his point succinctly.

“Kevin has been on the council for three terms. He’s worked hard at it. He’s a small business owner. He’s active in his church. Most importantly, he’s taken the time to be a volunteer on the redevelopment commission and taken the time to be a volunteer on the planning commission which is a thankless job. Because of those experiences, he has learned the ins and outs of how Carmel works, how Carmel government interacts with the private sector to make this a really wonderful place,” he concludes.

Roben Bellomo has his camera on a tripod in the center of Carmel’s Behn Gallery. He moves around quickly, almost catlike, adjusting the lighting to get the image he wants. Bellomo is a fine arts photographer and multimedia artist. He creates, knowing exactly how he wants his pieces to turn out.

At a glance, his recent partnership with iconic Russian painter Valery Kosorukov might seem unlikely, but the two have a lot in common. For instance, both have focused their artistic talent on ballet. Throughout his career, Kosorukov has painted the prima ballerinas of Russian Ballet. For his part, Bellomo has done countless works for the Indiana Ballet Conservatory. They are also both residents of Central Indiana. When Bellomo found out Kosorukov was living here, he began researching the artist.

“I learned of Valery and his extensive study of ballet,” Bellomo said with a smile as he sat in his Carmel gallery. “I was amazed. I started learning about him. I did some research. I was amazed that we had such an amazing master artist right here in our community. A lot of people didn’t know that, including me”

Until the end of March, Bellomo’s Behn Gallery will remain filled with the works of Kosorukov. What’s more, the visiting artist is doing interactive events in the gallery, meeting his fans, and showing how he creates.

Bellomo has been photographing, interviewing, and shooting videos of the artist. That work forms the foundation of a fascinating short-form video about Kosorukov which can be viewed in the context of the gallery and Kosorukov’s work.

Bellomo wants the snobbery sometimes associated with the art world to be gone. “Art is for everyone,” he said repeatedly during our interview.

For more on Roben Bellomo and the March exhibition of Valery Kosorukov’s work, visit Behn Gallery’s website:

When one walks into Antron Brown’s spacious Brownsburg garage, they are struck by how clean the place is. The darkened corners and oil puddles of a racing garage’s bygone era don’t exist here. The place even smells clean. It is as if the polished metals on Brown’s top fuel dragster are giving off a fragrance of unsullied steel and chrome. The garage is every bit as organized as it is clean. As the AB Motorsports crew removes one motor and replaces it with another, nobody is searching for a socket wrench or pliers. Everything is precisely where it’s supposed to be.

“We just put the work in,” says Antron Brown as he stands beside his top fuel dragster adorned with an understated new paint job. “We had a new operation last year. We had to work out all the bugs and iron out all the wrinkles.”

2022 was Brown’s first season as the owner of his own motorsports company. The team got off to a slow start but overcame earlier setbacks. Brown chalked up victories in Topeka, Indianapolis, and Charlotte to come within a breath of claiming the NHRA championship. This year’s car has passed all of the demanding tests the team has put it through. Brown is optimistic, and so too is his crew chief, Brian Corradi.

“We have a good Karma going on, on the team, it seems like this year,” says Corradi allowing a hint of confidence to play on his determined face and thin-lipped smile. “We really had a good test session.”

The NHRA season kicks off March 9th in Gainesville, Florida with Antron Brown marked as one of the top-ranked drivers.

You can connect with Antron Brown on Facebook here.

Danielle Zulkosky eases the driver’s seat back in the WISH-TV news van and shifts the vehicle into Drive. Then she looks at the mirrors and puts the van back into Park. “I guess I should adjust the mirrors so I can see,” she says with a laugh.

Zulkosky is exceedingly comfortable behind the wheel. The WISH-TV nightside reporter spends a lot of time on the road, racing to break news stories for the station’s night broadcasts. When the young journalist can string a few days off together, though, she often chooses to spend those days on the road too. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native is on a mission to visit every Lancaster in the nation. It started when she was a reporter in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“We ran this story about this cow named Hilda that set a record for milk production, and I found out she was located in Lancaster, Wisconsin,” she says as we round a turn in downtown Indianapolis. “And, I was like ‘wow, I thought there was only one (other than Pennsylvania) in South Carolina.’ I didn’t know there was one in Wisconsin. ‘I gotta go check this out.’

With that, a reporter was transformed into a knight on a quest. On days off, Zulkosky is likely to drive ten hours or more to make social media posts in a Lancaster or several Lancasters. Her Instagram posts are filled with Lancaster images.

“I would say my favorite one has been Lancaster, Kentucky, not counting my home in Pennsylvania, because that’s my favorite.” With her eyes on W. Washington Street, Zulkosky smiles as she remembers her Kentucky sojourn. “Lancaster, Kentucky is gorgeous. It’s about an hour outside of Lexington. It’s kind of hilly out there. You’re not fully in Appalachia, but you’re kind of on the edge of it.”

We ride around greater Indianapolis for over an hour with Zulkosky recalling the many Lancasters she’s visited including three here in Indiana. At some point, though, we realize we were lost.

“I actually have no idea where we are,” she laughs.

“That makes two of us,” I concede before asking her, “what’s next?”

Unlike when she’s on assignment for WISH-TV, Zulkosky isn’t facing any deadlines, so her quest is ever-evolving.

“I don’t know if it will be Missouri next or New Hampshire,” she says as we both recognize we are turning onto the familiar turf of West Ohio Street.

Ron Saba forcefully snaps each key on an old Olympia typewriter he’s opened up on his workbench. Meticulously, he wipes down the letters and sprays some sewing machine oil into the mechanics. When ribbons fail to reverse and rollers harden into a concrete-like consistency, Ron Saba is one of the few people willing to dive in and get an old typewriter back in shape.

Circle Business Equipment services a lot of old-school and modern business machines, but Saba is particularly passionate about old electric and manual typewriters. When this reporter wanted to unfreeze his 1960’s Underwood 5 manual typewriter, and his 1970’s era Olympia, he found Saba. Turns out, Saba has a booming business of clients who still view typing a note as an efficient way to communicate.

“Most of my customers are in the elderly group,” Saba says with a wry smile. “They don’t like the new-fangled electronics or don’t like the computers, but there are still a lot of new kids who are getting into vintage typewriters and enjoy the actual sound and the mechanics of the machines themselves.”

Saba learned to type when he was a student and was repairing IBM Selectric machines. I asked him if he attaches any romance to the clack, clack, clack of banging out copy on a manual typewriter.

“I absolutely do, yes,” Saba confirms.

Saba charges around seventy dollars to give an old typewriter a tune-up. Additional parts and labor can add to that fee. For additional information, check out the Circle Business Equipment website here:

On a recent January morning, 12-year-old Samuelle Leerkamp was bundled up in a thick, woolen coat, and climbing into the saddle. Despite the heavy coat, she and her horse were soon galloping around the indoor arena at Canterbury Manor Stables in Zionsville, sailing over jumps and doing flying lead changes. Her horse, Rooster, is a direct descendent of the iconic racehorse Secretariat, but he never so much as won a claiming race at the track. The 23-year-old gelding is a far better jumper than he was a racehorse and he has the perfect partner in Samuelle.

“So Rooster is a very sweet horse once you get to know him,” Samuelle said as she stood beside her chestnut partner who has a bold blaze down the center of his face just like Secretariat. “Rooster was really a jerk at first to me. We did not like each other. He bucked me off and rolled with my saddle and everything.”

Sam, though, stayed with her boy and soon had him doing just as she asked. The pair competed in hunter, jumper shows and collected a lot of ribbons. Sam’s trainer, Sandy Brady, soon realized she had a true horsewoman in the making, an equestrian prodigy. As Sam continued to move up the ranks, Sandy decided she needed to get her young charge a coach who could guide her at a higher level of competition. Sandy connected Sam with Emily Farmer who comes from a long line of Olympic and Grand Prix riders.

Emily put her student on another off-track Thoroughbred, Idol of Kings. Idol wasn’t any better at the racetrack than Rooster, but he is far younger and more fluid than old Rooster. The athletic gray steed, though, can turn on a dime without slowing down a lick. He has, therefore, deposited more than a few riders in the dirt. With her own athleticism and fluidity, Samuelle had little difficulty staying on the horse.

“She can take a horse that’s misunderstood and understand it,” Emily said proudly following a work session with Sam. “And, know why its behavior is abnormal and get it to do what she wants it to do.”

In both 2021 and 2022, Samuelle and Idol of Kings competed in the United States Hunter Jumper Association National Championships in Las Vegas. The pair have earned championship honors in multiple events. It is worth noting that young Sam has only been in the saddle for four years, and her riding career began when her uncle gave her Groupon coupons for horseback riding lessons.

“In the past, he’d always gotten her stuffed horses, horses that you could play with,” Sam’s father, Alan Leerkamp, said with a reserved smile. “This time it was riding lessons in the form of a Groupon to Canterbury Manor Stables in Zionsville.”

The rest, as they say, is history. That history, though, is continuing to be written. Emily Farmer believes her student has unlimited potential because of both her talent and her continuous effort.

Is there an antiquated snowblower sitting in the corner of your garage? Have you started it anytime in the last few years? Do you think it will start on Friday morning if this incoming winter storm lives up to expectations? Fear not, you can get that slummy snowblower ready to go.

The techs at Northern Tool locations in Indianapolis are ready to get your snowblower tuned up to start up. You might find, though, that the basic stuff is within your skill set.

“Check your spark plug,” said Northern Tool Manager Jon Spaulding. “Make sure that spark plug is good to go. Check your gas. Make sure you’ve got fresh gas. Fresh oil, and then check the filter to make sure it’s not clogged up.”

One of the most common issues with snowblowers that have been sitting dormant in a garage is deteriorating ethanol gas in the tank. The techs at Northern Tool encourage you to replace that stuff with ethanol-free gas or at least fresh fuel.

Despite the fact that there is a storm with us in its sights, the techs at Northern Tool aren’t overwhelmed. You can still load your snowblower in the car or truck and bring it in for a once-over. Christian Avila knows how to get your snowblower running smoothly.

“Typically, you’ll see a lot of customers bring it in with bad gas,” Avila said, emphasizing the aforementioned problem. “Basically, the ethanol in the gas will evaporate and leave behind residue, chemical residue. It basically gunks up the carburetor and the spark plug. If you’re trying to start it, it’ll foul it out and everything.”

To find a Northern Tool location in greater Indianapolis, check out their website.

On a recent gameday, Aaron and Cynthia Hacherl were already dressed in their Colts colors hours before the game. Aaron had his T.Y. Hilton jersey on first thing in the morning and Cynthia was wearing her Shaquille Leonard pullover. The Hacherls have been Colts season ticket holders for most of their adult lives. The enclosed porch on the back of their Carmel home is a gallery of sports memorabilia, with Colts banners, featured prominently. The Hacherls are quintessential Colts fans, remaining positive even when their team struggles.

“Colts fans rarely boo,” Cynthia said in an endorsement of her fellow fans. “They cheer. They cheer loudly on third down, just really trying to support our team. I feel like they’re just friendly and nice to all the fans sitting around us. We have a great time when we go to the games.”

The Hacherls maintain that positivity even when the headlines about their Colts seem gloomy. When Jim Irsey unceremoniously dismissed head coach Frank Reich and replaced him with former Colt Jeff Saturday, the Hacherls kept an open mind.

“Initially, I thought, oh man what is he doing?” Aaron said, raising his eyebrows. “But, I’ll tell you what, the thing I like about Jim Irsay, he’s a man of action. Things weren’t going well for us and he changed it up.”

“I felt like we needed to do something,” Cynthia said firmly. “It was such a disappointing start to the season.”

So the Hacherls quickly embraced the move from Reich to Saturday. When Saturday quickly reinstalled superstar Matt Ryan as starting quarterback, the Hacherl’s endorsed that move too.

“The guy’s a future hall of fame quarterback,” Aaron said. “I think we now have a chance to reboot here in the second half of the season and I’m optimistic for next year.”

The Hacherls hope tonight will be an easier test for their team, following a narrow loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They are keenly aware that the other team from Pennsylvania, the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers, are indeed struggling. Let’s go Colts!