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.
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.”
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.” ♥