Lord Kenmer, son of multiple-graded stakes winner Lord Avie, was already rejected once as a “dangerous horse” when Michigan dressage rider Shari Wolke took a leap of faith.
Watching him buck inside the ring, taking a volunteer with New Vocations Racehorse Adoption on a wild ride, Wolke could still see beyond his contortions.
She saw a kind eye and a floating gait; and along with that, imagined the full-bodied bay as an ideal dressage mount.
“As I watched him with my friend and former riding instructor Colleen Coatsworth, we were convinced that his bucking was not malicious, and we were pretty sure we could handle it,” Wolke says. “I’d worked with Thoroughbreds in the past, and I had one who tended to buck if there was something wrong.”
So she brought Lord Kenmer home in November 2007 and immediately started her detective work to deduce Lord Kenmer
Sire: Lord Avie
Dam: Search for Reality
Feb. 2, 1999the reason for the bucking behavior. A saddle fitter was brought in to ensure the tack was meticulously matched with his 16.3-hand frame.
Chiropractic adjustments were made; Wolke massaged his sore muscles herself, and a round of expensive ulcer medication was introduced to address a small, Grade 2 ulcer.
The last piece of the puzzle was to plug him into a new barn, where consistent, top-grade hay was always available to him, and Lord Kenmer’s every horse wish was met.
The bucking stopped.
Then the plain bay pulled out the stops, taking a page from his successful father’s competition prowess, and began making an impressive play in dressage competition circles.
Lord Kenmer and Wolke have now won major dressage championships, including one at the Dressage at Waterloo Hunt Club in Michigan, and in 2010, he won the USDF bronze medal, and is currently competing at the Prix St. George Level, striving to earn a USDF silver medal this year.
“His work in the ring is really strong, with his best moves being the flying changes,” she says. “He does them very cleanly, and finds them easy. I’m not sure why, but it was just really easy for him to figure out.
“He also has a really nice walk, which is actually hard for a lot of Warmbloods; but we get consistently good scores on our extended walk. And, he has a nice shoulder-in as well.”
But before they presented themselves to the judges as the complete package, there were many mental hurdles to clear, she says.
“We had a training challenge every day,” Wolke says. “It was a challenge just to get his attention with me, and to get him connected. And when we started going to shows, there were a thousand new challenges to overcome.”
But if on some days it seemed like no good would come of their hard-fought battles to get it right, in the end, Wolke attributes her faith in Lord Kenmer to her deeply held belief that he was a simply a good horse, capable of doing the task at hand.
“I was recently reflecting on why I’m drawn to Thoroughbreds, and I think that in the way some people say that horses get into your blood, that for me, Thoroughbreds might be in mine,” she says.
“My father used to be a racing foreman at the Detroit Race Course, and after that, he worked as a farrier for a while. He shod a bunch of racehorses at the track, and my mother was a vet tech who worked on the track.
“I guess I grew up knowing how good these horses are.”