Thursday, January 20, 2022

Remembering Krista Wasco

Life is full of surprises, and you never know how the smallest action can lead to something so huge and impactful as a wonderful friendship.

In May 2001, I made a post on Haynet-Exchange, the old hobby Yahoo group for buying and selling model horses, asking to trade my customizing skills for a Peter Stone pony called Sassy. The model had been released a few weeks earlier at Stone's Mayfest event in Shipshewana, IN, and I thought it was a really lovely piece. I was in grad school in Chicago at the time, so I hadn't really been aware of the event until after it was over. Not long after posting, I got a reply from Krista Corry, a hobbyist I didn't know, and she offered me her extra pony. She said it had a small flaw in the paint, but I told her I didn't mind, and she was just as happy to trade for my beginner level painting.

The pony that started it all

It turned out Krista was a fellow Minnesotan who was living just a few hours north of me in Fond Du Lac, WI, and her fiancé just happened to have family in Chicago where I was in school. The next time they were in town, they made a point to stop by to meet me. We had a wonderful time visiting, traded horses, and made a promise to meet up at BreyerFest later that summer. We continued to exchange emails and found we had similar tastes in movies and especially music (grunge, punk, and anything Chris Cornell did), as well as the same snarky sense of humor.

That one silly pony kicked off a 20+ year-long friendship and perpetual pony swap. Krista was glad to send me various OFs and resins of which I would keep a few and paint the rest for her. She even once traded me a window air-conditioning unit for my sweltering apartment in exchange for custom paint jobs. It makes me laugh every time I think of it.

As time went on, we became fast friends and made a point to get together every chance we could. At the Great Lakes Congress in Chicago in 2004, we roomed together and had so much fun all weekend. Krista, who was a talented tack maker and performance shower, took me under her wing and helped me start showing performance. She was generous with her talent and time, and she was always happy to lend tack or advice to anyone who needed it. I learned so much from her.

Krista tacking up her favorite breed

A beautiful Western saddle and bridle made by Krista

My favorite picture of us at GLC

Krista grew up with real horses and earned an equine science degree in college. She was a serious competitor in Western speed events from a young age. As she was in all aspects of her life, Krista was bold and fearless on horseback.

Krista barrel racing

Her heart horse was a bay Quarter Horse gelding named Trouble. His registered name was Sea Deck Go, and he was a great-great-great-grandson of the famous racehorse Seabiscuit. Krista and Trouble kicked ass and took names wherever they went.

Krista pole-bending with Trouble

Sea Deck Go aka Trouble

Krista’s beloved Trouble made the leap into the model horse world when I painted a portrait of him for her on DeeAnn Kjelshus' "Let's Roll" resin. The creativity and versatility of her performance entries was always so impressive, and just like with his real life counterpart, Krista enjoyed great success with model Trouble in just about every performance discipline.

Trouble spinning towards the last fence in a timed jump off

Trouble pole-bending in tack Krista made to match their real gear

A few months after attending GLC, we decided to hit the road together to travel to BreyerFest. To say we had a blast is an understatement. We laughed about loud ice machines, creepy hotel clerks, faulty fire alarms, and hilarious no-diving-or-your-head-will-break-off-and-lightning-will-shoot-out signs. (Trust me, it's really funny when you're punchy from lack of sleep because you showed at NAN until midnight for two days.)

Hanging out with Krista at BreyerFest was always an adventure. We showed at NAN and the BreyerFest Open Show, spectated at the not-a-NAN event, wandered the halls of the HIN/CHIN until the wee hours, and visited a bunch of horse farms over the years. 

Krista feeding a mint to Speightstown at Winstar

Krista and I with Tiznow

After she got married, Krista and her husband Mark moved to Sioux Falls, SD. One year after BreyerFest, I rode all the way back to Sioux Falls with her. We left Kentucky after the Sunday raffle (we didn't win, but not for lack of trying), drove through a crazy, intense thunderstorm, got asked for our numbers at a sandwich shop in Wisconsin, giggled like lunatics at Happy Bunny stickers at a gas station at two in the morning in the middle of nowhere, and finally rolled into Sioux Falls rocking out to Nine Inch Nails at 4am. I spent a couple of days with Krista noodling around Sioux Falls, and then we headed back to Minnesota to spend time with my family at my grandma's cottage. Grandma was also a horse person, and having lived through Seabiscuit's racing days, she was so impressed with and interested in Trouble and his famous ancestor. We had such a ridiculous amount of fun sharing stories during her stay with us.

Krista wanted very much to be a mom, and life with four kids kept her very busy. I didn't get to see her as much when they were young, but we definitely made the most of our time together when we could. 

Krista and baby Jack at BreyerFest

BF shenanigans with my sister, me, and Krista

At BreyerFest 2018, Krista was thrilled to meet one of her equestrian idols, champion barrel racer Charmayne James. She gushed about how amazing it was to get to talk to her at the Kentucky Horse Park, and I was so delighted for her when they ended up on the same flight out of Lexington and got to chat even more. 

Not even a twisted ankle could stop Krista at BF!
Krista was also a huge animal lover, adopting strays and purebreds alike. She loved all horses, too, but Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, and especially cremellos were her favorite. She was good at anything she set her mind to, from making model horse tack to sewing clothes to learning sign language. Krista was the very embodiment of kindness, generosity, and compassion. 
Life threw an unfair number of curve balls at Krista, but her kids were her world, and she was their fiercest advocate. She would have done literally anything for them. She was a champion for autism awareness, trans-rights, and the LGBTQ community. Her kids loved Star Wars, and she took Space Mom (General Leia/Carrie Fisher) as her patron saint. We all remember her as a fierce mama bear and a strong woman who spoke out for what was right, but I know Krista would tell us she was just doing what had to be done.

It feels so unreal and wrong that we have lost such a vibrant, selfless, amazing force of nature like Krista. I'm devastated by the loss of my dear friend, and my heart is absolutely broken for her family, especially her kids. The outpouring of love from her friends has at least helped me bear my grief a little more easily. I hope Krista knew how many lives she touched and how many people loved her. She’ll always be remembered, and she’ll always be my best friend.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a Gofundme set up for mark and the kids.


  1. Thank you,... your own version of "just doing what had to be done" is just spot on for me. I knew the face and have a few pix of her tack. I wish I'd known her better.

  2. This is so heartfelt ❤
    I'm going to share this on her father in law's page, my late husband, John "Bear" Wasco, Mark's dad. Thank you for this loving tribute ❤ I am so saddened that you lost a loving, caring, fun, beautiful horse woman and friend.