Kate + Watson
Color Bay Tobiano Pinto
When you hear of an FEI dressage horse, you typically think of a magnificent specimen that has been respectfully bred with the most intricate care and research in order to successfully produce its field. While this is the case for the vast majority of upper level dressage horses, there are those who come from a less-than-prestigious background, yet have the world and more to offer their rider.
My horse, Watson, was picked up by a wonderful woman at an auction back in the spring of 2011 with no papers, known age, or known breed. He was kept at her farm for roughly two months before I saw his ad online and absolutely fell in love. Without even going to see him, we brought him down to our barn and welcomed him into our family. While he was extremely quiet under-saddle, he was still very green in his training and lacked the muscle and weight that he eventually packed on over time.
As a new rider myself, taking on a semi-green horse proved to be the adventure of a lifetime; although with the knowledge that I have now, I would not recommend doing it without the supervision of a professional. We started from absolute ground zero and began showing intro-level dressage, to which we had our bums handed to us multiple times with low scores and commentary from peers that revolved around selling him to get a “real” dressage horse. Despite this, we plodded along and eventually found ourselves in a competitive dressage barn with a trainer that truly brought out the best in both of us.
We soon began showing at USDF-recognized competitions at training level, coming out with respectable scores and occasionally pulling in a blue ribbon or two. Our training progressed and we soon found ourselves showing first and second level. In 2014, we went to USDF Regional Championships in Wellington, Florida. We didn’t expect much, knowing that the best of the best horse/rider pairs would be there. To many peoples’ astonishment, we ended up taking third place out of just over 20 horse and rider pairs at first level.
When we returned home, we began our third level work and took it out to compete just a month later, as Watson proved to have a knack for flying changes. At our first show of the season, we qualified in one weekend for regionals at third level, which also earned us our USDF Bronze Medal. We soon found ourselves at the Georgia International Horse Park in 2015 for another Regional Championship. Although we did not place, the fact that we made it to that level of competition at third level was more than I could ask for, especially with Watson. We came home and trained harder than ever and eventually found ourselves competing fourth level with consistent scores in the 60’s and even popping out a 70% in a four-level musical freestyle. We are now prepping to debut FEI Prix St George in August 2017, and are schooling all of the I-1 movements, accompanied with some occasional half-steps and one-tempis.
Outside of the competition ring, Watson is quite possibly the sweetest horse I have ever known. He loves attention and loves cuddle-time with his people. He has taught my eight-year-old brother how to ride, is teaching a young girl at my barn first/second level work, and may just be making another appearance at Regionals in October at first level. He is the horse that I ride in an open field completely tack-less and will come under my seat for a pirouette the moment the thought crosses my mind. He’s the horse that I honestly trust with my life and the horse that has taught me more than I could ever ask for. He’s the little unwanted paint horse that was dropped off at an auction with the potential of ending up with a kill buyer.
That horse I was told to sell and the horse that I was told wouldn’t make in dressage? He’s now my FEI dressage horse and the greatest friend I could ever ask for. He has inspired me to take in more horses like him in the future and give them a second chance. Maybe even helping them find their own little girl to love them unconditionally.
You can follow our story on Instagram at @painted__dressage and our Youtube at PaintedDressage 🙂
What #RightHorse means to me:
To me, the #righthorse brings the opportunity of a happier life to horses who have been tossed around and treated unfairly in the past. The #righthorse spreads awareness of the immense potential that every horse has; whether it’s as a forever companion, a pleasure horse, a trail horse, a show horse, or all of the above.