With a head full of dreams about becoming a veterinarian, Lindsey Memering will pack up and head off to college this month, temporarily leaving behind her horse with storybook looks.
Atreyu, named after a character in The NeverEnding Story, will cool his heels while Lindsey begins biology studies at Albion College in Michigan. But the leading man in Lindsey’s life for the last three years, and who has taught her as much about being a good horsewoman as she has taught him about hunters and jumpers, will remain her primary motivator.
Ultimately, Lindsey, 19, hopes to enter veterinarian studies and one day have a large-animal practice. But for now, she will take it a step at a time, methodically finding her way, like she did when she first started schooling Atreyu.
If anything in a riding ring has prepared her for the hard work and dedication it takes to get through biology, teaching Atreyu to jump has.
Image of a Cat
New Name: Atreyu
Sire: Tabasco Cat
Dam: Decorated Image
Sire’s sire: Storm Cat “The first time we started jumping he literally did everything sideways,” she says. “I had to be consistent, and I had to go over it and over it until he got it right. Every time he did something correctly, it was a really big deal for both of us.”
Through repetition and lots of praise, she taught the top-earning racehorse to lose his “grumpy teenage boy” attitude and open himself up to new experiences.
“I wanted him to be a hunter, but he didn’t like it because he doesn’t want to go slow. So my trainer and I decided to try him with the jumpers, and he’ll do that all day. He loves it.”
She also learned he loves to do tight turns, perfect for barrel racing. “The first barrel race we went to we came in second,” Lindsey says, noting at 16.2, he was the biggest horse in the competition ring that day.
Since his initial foray into showing, Atreyu has worked his unconventional jumping style into a winning performance. Nobody was more surprised last weekend at the Grosspoint Hunt Club show when he took sixth out of 27 in the hunter division. “I heard the results and I thought, ‘Um, are you right about that?’ ”
The ribbons and the new career didn’t come easy for the seasoned campaigner who won more than $230,000 in his seven-year racing career. But like the warrior character in the NeverEnding story, he perseveres and adapts.
Which is just what she plans to do when she is faced with stacks of homework or a challenging lesson plan.
“I have a lot of hard work ahead of me,” she says, “but my goal is to be a vet and to go into equine medicine so I can continue doing this, forever.”
No doubt she will.