Nicole Roncalli enjoys taking a break from her everyday life to show her horses every year at the Crow Wing County Fair.
"What horse owner doesn't like to show off their horses," Roncalli said of her hoofed family members.
Roncalli, 20, first became interested in horses at a young age, reading books and magazines about the animals, dreaming of the day she would own her own.
"I got the fever and never lost it," she said.
She bought Peppy when she was 16 and he was 2 and later bought Hemi, now 3 years old. Roncalli calls them "pleasure horses" for now, but later hopes to get more involved with barrel racing and horse shows around the state.
Nicole Roncalli showed her geldings Hemi (left) and Peppy at the Crow Wing County Fair. The horses are considered members of the Roncalli family. Brainerd Dispatch/Heidi Lake » Purchase reprints of this photo.
First she needs to find the time.
Roncalli recently graduated from Central Lakes College's criminal justice program and is interning with the Lake Shore Police Department. She is engaged to be married in October and is in the thick of planning for the nuptials. Peppy and Hemi, although considered members of the family, will be left out of the ceremony.
Roncalli said her love of horses came into play when Derek Prindle proposed to her on Christmas Day last year. She collects model horses and was thrilled when Prindle gave her a sought-after horse to add to her collection.
She was even more excited when she noticed an engagement ring wrapped around the model horse's midsection.
Once life settles down for the couple, they hope to spend more time working with Peppy and Hemi. Roncalli enjoys riding at her parent's 15 acres in Brainerd or going to Pillsbury State Forest.
Career dreams: Roncalli hopes to continue working for the Lake Shore Police Department.
Number of times she changed her major while attending CLC: Three. From criminalistics to natural resources law enforcement to criminal justice.
Why she named her horse Hemi: Because his mom's name was Magnum.
Hobbies (other than horses): Being involved with CLC's Law Enforcement Club and the American Criminal Justice Association. Shooting at a range.
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"I've always been the type that likes to go out in the woods," Roncalli said.
She said her daily chores involve feeding the horses twice a day and cleaning their stalls.
"You don't realize how much work they are until you want to go on vacation and need to find someone to take care of them," she said.
For the last two years Roncalli and Prindle have attended Sonshine, a Christian music festival in Willmar, where they camp for the three-day event. The couple said this year's festival wasn't as eventful as last year's when a storm including 60 mph winds swept through the campground leaving them with a broken tent pole.
While mid-July temperatures were high at Sonshine and continued through Crow Wing County Fair week, Roncalli didn't mind spending time in the steamy horse building on the fairgrounds.
As long as she got to spend time with her fiance, and Peppy and Hemi, she was happy.
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.
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