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Christi Proctor’s story is like a fairy tale within a fairy tale. First, the Texas-born designer got tapped to appear on the reality TV show Trading Spaces. Then, the fame and fortune she earned helped her realize her dream of becoming a horsewoman and cowgirl.

Rewind a decade and you’d find Proctor successfully managing her shop “Spice Retail and Design” in a remodeled warehouse in Waco, Texas. One day, while considering some continuing education classes for designers, she came across an ad for a reality-based TV show. The show needed professional home designers. As a lark, Kristi sent an email. Jokingly, she told her then ten- year-old son, “Momma’s gonna be on TV!”

To her utter surprise, the next day she received an email from Banyan Productions, the show’s producers. After submitting a portfolio, she was flown out to Los Angeles to audition and, out of 400 applicants; she got the job as a celebrity designer on Trading Spaces.

In the show, two families would “trade spaces,” redesigning a room in the other family’s house with the assistance of a designer and one or two carpenters. In her first hectic season, Christi worked on close to 70 episodes which aired on the cable network TLC (The Learning Channel). The show was quite successful, leading to spinoffs such as the immensely popular series “Ultimate Home Makeover,” which starred Trading Spaces carpenter Ty Pennington.

After a five-year run, the show ended. But not before Christi used her fame and fortune to pursue a childhood dream: owning and showing performance horses.

“Trading Spaces allowed me the freedom to buy my first horse. By the time production wrapped in 2007, I was already competing,” she recalled. She gravitated toward the sport of reining, which involves the precise handling of horses through a pattern of maneuvers. Christi, who admits to being easily distracted, loved the tranquility and discipline of the event.

“I am such a highly-driven personality; I have to be doing something creative, something new. Reining is a place where I can stop and breathe. There is something that is so calming about it,” she said.

She also enjoyed the easy camaraderie of the reining horse community.

“I loved the atmosphere of the shows. People hanging out and talking. Like this one time at a show, we were just sitting around among the horse stalls. And a guy fired up his amplifier and his guitar to sing ‘Amazing Grace.’ And it was so peaceful and beautiful. Even the horses dropped their heads and became quiet.”

After Trading Spaces ran its course, Christi hunted about for more television opportunities, but without another series forthcoming, she settled down to doing what she enjoys most: designing. Her new interior fashions company is called “Moon Rein,” and is a nod to both her horse passion and the romantic idea of a moonlit date—on horseback.

“My friends tease me and call my style ‘Western bordello!’ I really see it coming from what I imagine would have been found in an Old West hotel, boarding house, or even a saloon,” she said of her latest designing mission. COWGIRL wholeheartedly agrees; we think reining and romance make for the ultimate cowgirl style fusion!

(Originally published February 2013)