A horse who follows his young owner everywhere, even into the basement of her family home, will do anything for his mistress once she throws the saddle on and gives the signal to Go!
Then the mild-mannered bay gelding named Peppersauce demonstrates the “kick” he lacked to be a competitive racehorse or timber horse.
On one recent four-day weekend, Pepper Sauce and his owner Maggie Herzog began with an intense Jumper lesson on Thursday. The next day, the team entered an English show at the Baltimore 4H Fair, winning almost every class. They returned the next day in Western tack to barrel race, and on Sunday they competed at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico, earning 4th and 5th places in classes of 20 or more.
“I’ve always had a thing for this horse,” says Herzog, 18. “We clicked early on when steeplechase trainer Patrick Worrall, who I work for, bought him to steeplechase. I rode him everyday. I trained him to jump, and he was just for everything. He would jump anything!”
After a year of trying Pepper Sauce at point-to-point races and finding that his flare fizzled before he reached the finish line, the in-your-pocket equine was turned over to Herzog on Christmas three years ago.
“Patrick gave my mother (Brenda Herzog) his Jockey Club papers in secret. And when I got up on Christmas morning, they were wrapped up like a present and hanging on the tree,” she says. “I opened it up and there were his papers with my name on them!”
Best present ever!
Though Maggie Herzog had ridden her mother’s horses her whole life, her name on Pepper Sauce’s papers meant the world to the young rider who learned from her mother to ride unafraid, and to embrace the hard horses, with a zest for life.
Although the elder Herzog was forced to stop riding after sustaining a fall in her 20s, which left her a paraplegic, Brenda Herzog never blamed the horse, and she never discouraged her daughter’s blossoming love of horse sport.
“After I was paralyzed, I had my children. And I always stayed involved with horses,” Brenda Herzog says, admitting it was sometimes a little scary watching her daughter ride a hard horse.
And her daughter, for her part, remains a steadfast disciple of the sport, despite her mother’s accident. “There’s always going to be that risk, you know. There are so many things that can happen to you, but you have to take that risk to do what you love,” she says.
In Pepper Sauce they have found a horse who is careful, kind and talented. His flair for competition won the pair the Maryland Combined Training Association High Point trophy last year. And his dog-like loyalty won him a trip into the family’s home last year.
“He follows me around everywhere, and I wondered if he’d follow me into the basement of the house. So I walked in and he walked right in behind me,” Maggie Herzog says. “He looked around, I got his picture, and then I turned him around and we walked back out.”
There are no plans yet to get Pepper Sauce a room of his own. But, this mild-mannered T-bred has earned a place in the hearts of a mother and daughter who trust their mellow horse to the ends of the earth. ♥