On the California Jumper circuit, Thoroughbred Guerrero Negro roars up to every fence as though it is something to be attacked, at speed, with barely a glance.
With 11-year-old rider James Tota in the irons, the up-and-coming OTTB, whose name translates in Spanish as Black Warrior, is proving to be every bit the fighter his name suggests, chasing down fences and knocking in victories.
“This horse has had a spectacular first year,” says owner and trainer Diane Grant-Schott of California. “He does not want to lose or touch a rail, and if he does, he thinks it’s his rider’s fault!”
Show name: Guerr8
Sire: Came Home
Foal date: Feb. 27, 2007Though only 15.2 hands in height, the expressive OTTB seems to grow in stature the minute he enters the ring, says Grant-Schott, who adds, “He just attacks every fence, and does everything you want him to do.”
After back-to-back wins at the Camelot show series at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center this past November, Grant-Schott says she is thrilled to see the wild child of an ex-racehorse find his calling in the Jumper arena.
The dark bay, whose show name is Guerr8, won both the Thoroughbred Classic and Overall Thoroughbred Jumper at the November shows, Camelot Autumn Classic (Nov. 5) and Camelot Autumn Jubilee (Jan. 20-22). He was named the Thoroughbred Classic Horse Show High Point Champion and Grand Champion in the .70’s and .80’s meters.
Watching her project horse tear up the show circuit is a victory on many levels for his trainer.
Beyond the ribbons, trophies and framed portrait of American Pharoah, is the pride and relief that comes with having found a new path, the right road, for a horse few would have taken a chance on.
He was not an easy horse. In some circles he would have been called difficult, in others, dangerous.
“The first time I turned him out, he started leaping off a 3-foot bank we have in our ring. He would pop up on it, rear and spin around,” she says. “At the time, I knew he wasn’t really saleable, that he could possibly hurt someone.”
In total, she spent three years getting Guerr8 ready for a rider. And when the time came, the fiery but lovely Thoroughbred chose her young student, James Tota. “James was 11 when I agreed to let him try Guerr8. And I eventually sent them to a show in Nov. 2014, and they went in and won it!”
Now the young rider and opinionated Thoroughbred are well on their way!
Guerr8 and rider are working on speed and rhythm and are shooting for the goal of meter Jumpers in the spring, says Grant-Schott, who adds, “I knew there was something special about this horse.”