“I don’t usually enter contests,” said Carrie Hurd of Weatherford, TX, “partly because I’ve always taught my children that to get the important things in life, it usually takes hard work, not free winnings. But the free winnings sure are nice when they come.”

Hurd is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2004 Purina Mills Horse Owners Workshop (HOW) Sweepstakes. Her journey to the prize started back in Spring 2004 at a reining demonstration held at an area arena.

Actually, it’s Carrie’s 18-year-old daughter Monica who is the horse aficionado in the household. “We have a very large family–11 children–so we can’t focus a lot of time and energy on one particular child or one particular activity. Monica’’ done it on her own,” Hurd said proudly.

Monica doesn’t compete, but she has two horses, including an older horse that used to compete. Said Hurd, “She raises collies to pay for the horses, and we pay for the upkeep.”

Monica had been giving free riding lessons to a friend and the two girls and their mothers decided to attend the horse event where Carrie entered the sweepstakes.

“When FedEx arrived with the notification early this year, I called my husband Patrick, an accountant, to tell him,” she recalls. “He was skeptical, but I told him ‘it looks official.'”

Before long, the prizes started arriving. “It was like Christmas around here, with items coming in the mail every few days,” she said.

Then came the biggest prize–a a 2005 Exiss XT300 all-aluminum three-horse gooseneck trailer. “It’s beautiful, and we’re tickled to have it,” Hurd says gratefully. “But we don’t have a truck to pull it. We drive a 15-passenger BUV–Big Ugly Van. It’s 14 years old and it won’t die.”

She says