A T-bred heads to Devon dressage, hard won

Kaytee Mountain and Sue Gallagher go Prix St. George, get the silver, head to Devon.

Kaytee Mountain and Sue Gallagher go Prix St. George, get the silver, head to Devon.

A green T-bred who came from out of a field in 2007 with not much going for him but his spunk and the pluck of an Australian owner, now dances at the heights of the Dressage world.

Kaytee Mountain has been transformed. When once the dark bay gelding could barely trot, and moved his gangly legs in an awkward up/down “sewing needle” gait, he now displays the extension and the form of a fluid, cooperative mover. And he has the points and winnings to prove it.

After beginning the show season at 4th level, the American Thoroughbred started training Prix St. George in July, competing in classes at Hawk Hollow Ranch in NJ against World Equestrian Games riders. Kaytee Mountain placed sixth of eight riders, a mighty achievement considering the competition, she says.

Kaytee Mountain
Sire: Deniro, by Gulch
Dam: Kara Mountain
Foal date: April 16, 2003
“We were in quite a serious class competing against some who are far more experienced than us,” she says. “I was so excited he could hold his own in a class like that.”

Not only did he hold his own in a class last week, performing 26 different movements, but also her little T-bred preformed better than she did! “I need to be quicker and better prepared—for him. I feel like he’s saying, ‘OK. I’ve got it, now have you got it?’ ”

Having amassed enough points in the USDF system to earn a silver medal, they are not resting on their laurels. The pair will compete at Devon on Sept. 27 and 28! “I’m sure our eyes will be sticking out of our heads like they were on sticks. It will be a wonderful experience, but terrifying,” Gallagher says. “I’ve only ever been to Devon as a spectator. It’s the main international horse show, the cream of the crop. There are beautiful horses, beautiful riders— you have to be at the top of your game to compete there.”

Kaytee Mountain performs with Sue Gallagher. Photo by Stacy Lynne Photo

Kaytee Mountain performs with Sue Gallagher. Photo by Stacy Lynne Photo

To those who see them now, it might look easy, as if bot horse and rider team were born with it. But Kaytee Mountain was living in a field in 2007 when Gallagher met an animal she found to be one of the friendliest horses she’d ever encountered. Though he was built all wrong for a dressage career, she felt so much joy just being in his company that she went for it. She bought him.

For years their training labored on together. Sometimes seeming as though they were pushing the proverbial rock up the mountain; in a rainstorm! He was tense. He was stiff as a board. And he possessed a weak topline. The list went on and on.

Unfazed, Gallagher pressed on through his temperamental outbursts and bit by bit, together, the got a little closer to the top of the hill.

In an earlier interview with Off-Track Thoroughbreds, she described the battles in the schooling ring, and the disappointing outcomes from the show ring, and the predictable judge’s comments that noted her horse was too tense. (Please see an earlier story about Kaytee Mountain).

But Gallagher never gave up on Kaytee. She ignored his bad behavior and rode it out until, after years of effort, she found herself sitting on a USDF silver medalist last week—a far cry from the horse she pulled out of the field.

“I know there are a bunch of people who have Thoroughbreds,” she says. “I just want them to know that they can do it. It can be done. They just need to stick with it.” ♥

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12 responses to “A T-bred heads to Devon dressage, hard won”

  1. Kathy A. Johnson

    I was at Rillito race track and noticed a few good dressage prospects that I wished were not racing. One gelding came up on the far side of the track behind a curtain after his jockey bailed – not a pretty sight in a very dangerous sport.
    There was a gorgeous, young grey gelding that was just to pretty to be a racehorse; he should be in the menage. There was another brown who reminded me of my last dressage mare. He left in the tarped trailer. I wish I could have bought him in time.

  2. Brandi Williams

    I will be photographing their big day from the stable to the show ring! I will happily supply you with photos if you would like to do a follow up article!

  3. cheri vaughan

    What a handsome, accomplished pair!!

  4. Callie1983

    All of my OTTB rescues are retrained in Dressage. It is great for their bodies and keeps their minds occupied. A Thoroughbred is as light as a feather compared to their Warmblood cousins. Just gorgeous. Well done!!

  5. Teresa Melnick

    This is a wonderful story! Sue is a true horsewoman who knows that good things take time, patience, and knowledge of the horse. I hope they continue to excel in their dressage career.

  6. Rhonda Ennis

    Way to go Sue and Kaytee!! I had a similar journey on a messed up TB, riding through many meltdowns and panic attacks. Jen Roytz did a great piece on us for the Paulick Report.

    I know what it is like to place in the ribbons in a tough class full of warmbloods and be ecstatic about it, those are victories none the less. Blake and I will be cheering proudly for you as you represent us all at Devon.

  7. Ellen Brayshaw

    Sue, I send you full support. In 1980, I too was Grand Prix St George and headed to Devon on an Irish thoroughbred. I’ve been telling people for 50 plus years that thoroughbreds are the most athletic horse ever and can do any form of athleticism. My best to you and and your wonderful journey…Ellen

  8. edna

    Yes, sometimes it takes much longer than we think it ought to, but its always worth it when the horse and rider come together as partners. They’re so lovely together! Best of luck at Devon in September!

  9. Kim Alexander

    I absolutely LOVE this! Thanks for the update on this wonderful pair.

  10. Victoria Racimo

    A simple story that belies it’s simplicity for what Kaylee and Sue accomplished together, based on love and trust, is quite monumental. It’s another heart warming success of what our OTTBs can do given the chance. Congratulations both! Continued success but most of all, health and happiness.

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