T-bred nails 4th Level Dressage at Devon

Kaytee Mountain and Sue Gallagher scored many 8s in their 3rd place finish in Level 4 Dressage at Devon Sept. 27. Their pirouette work and harmony were singled out by judges for the high marks.

Kaytee Mountain and Sue Gallagher scored many 8s in their 3rd place finish in Level 4 Dressage at Devon Sept. 27. Their pirouette work and harmony were singled out by judges for the high marks. Photos by Stacy Lynne Photo

A Thoroughbred who once moved so oddly that his trot had the jerky up-down motion of a sewing needle, held his own against many naturally gifted sport horses last weekend, placing at the top of his 4th Level Dressage test at the fabled Devon Horse Show.

Kaytee Mountain and his owner/rider Sue Gallagher cinched third place Sept. 27 in a field of 15 horse/rider teams, none of them Thoroughbreds, most of them professional.

Following a classically poor dress rehearsal—they got lost en route to the show grounds, and performed a harried practice session in a driving rain the night before— the pair cantered up the centerline of the show ring like conquering heroes returning from battle.

“He cantered in with such confidence that I don’t think I’ve ever felt him move like that before!” says Gallagher, who notes that from that point on, the off-track Thoroughbred she pulled out of a field in 2007 turned in a near flawless performance.

Never in her wildest dreams did Gallagher expect she and her T-bred Kaytee Mountain to score in the top 10 at their first Devon show. Taking 3rd place in 4th Level was a stunning achievement.

Never in her wildest dreams did Gallagher expect she and her T-bred Kaytee Mountain to score in the top 10 at their first Devon show. Taking 3rd place in 4th Level was a stunning achievement.

“We had a minor blip when he saw a photographer crouched near the crowd, but it was very, very minor. Otherwise, he was a true professional, answering every aid, and staying with me for the entire ride.”

So ably did the pair perform that judges freely awarded them 8s for several factors, including their halt, tempe changes, walking pirouettes, and in their Collective Marks, which included an 8 for the harmony between horse and rider!

“To get an 8 on the harmony between horse and rider, I think that sums up everything,” Gallagher says. “There were a total of 30 horses and riders in our division, split into two teams, and he was the only Thoroughbred, and we rode in there on a snaffle.”

Stunned to score in the top 10, much less third place, the beautifully turned out team made look easy what came after years of hard work. From the moment the Australia native adopted Kaytee in 2007 and decided to train the unsuitably built Thoroughbred for dressage, the journey was an uphill battle. The racehorse was stiff, tense, possessed a weak topline, and had a flighty nature. But what he lacked in build and training he made up in temperament, being an animal who brought a feeling of joy in Gallagher. (Please see an earlier story in Off-Track Thoroughbreds).

At the end of the ride, all she could think was, "What a good boy!"

At the end of the ride, all she could think was, “What a good boy!”

With a list of accomplishments under their belts hard won after years of dogged work, they now claim among them the title of USDF Silver Medalists. A place where few Thoroughbreds showed at all last weekend, much less at the top levels of Dressage, Kaytee proved that when the starting bell rang, and it was time to get serious, he was a horse who could get it done.

“When we first arrived at the show ring, we were cantering along the outside, and he was a little spooky. He spooked at the judges tents a couple of times, and I thought oh no,” she says. “But when that bell rang, and I put him into the canter, he flipped a switch in his brain, and he was suddenly and completely with me, more than I have ever felt before.” ♦

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25 responses to “T-bred nails 4th Level Dressage at Devon”

  1. Mary Meyer

    One of my favorite broodmares was a Caro mare! Her first TB baby by Cee’s Tizzy was a wonderful dressage horse. I bred her to warmbloods and had many FEI offspring!

  2. Leslie

    You can find the pedigree for any OF TV at http://www.pedigreequery.com.

  3. Jon

    Brains, grace, athleticism, power and personality, all the reason one should want to own a Thoroughbred. There is nothing a TB cannot do and do it well.

  4. Lynn O'Sullivan

    The animal is spectacular, equalled only by his master.

  5. Sue Gallagher

    Thank you everyone for your support and lovely comments. It helps knowing that there is support out there!!

  6. Linda McDowell

    I love this story!

  7. cheri vaughan

    Love it!!! What a stunning pair, spiritually and physically!!

  8. Lynne Wooddell

    What a huge accomplishment. My 15 year old daughter and her OTTB (African Wildfire, whom Susan has written about in the past) just finished the season with a score of 73% in their last Second Level test, which put them in Top 10 of US Junior riders for Second level. It usually takes a lot of extra work but these OTTBs can be as good or better than many of their WB counterparts. Great story!

  9. Ellen Brayshaw

    I’m 63 and owner breeder of thoroughbreds. Sue and Kaytee have capsulated what I’ve been telling people all my life,…thoroughbreds are bred athletes and can surpass every genre of sports riding. Their intelligence, personalities, ability and agility goes beyond other breeds as a whole. I am so utterly thrilled of your accomplishment on a young horse with a snafle,…there is a God. In 1967 and a young girl, I made it on the US Olympic team on a thoroubred. In 1984 I won Grand Prix St George at Devon on a thoroughbred in a french mouth loose ring. People dampered all excitement because it was a TB…As we know our thorouhbreds have been conquering all aspects of professional sports and you Sue and Kaytee have added the icing on the cake for me and all who know how incredible this breed is…thank you…!!!

    1. Sue Gallagher

      Wow Ellen, thank you very much for your kind words! I hope I can accomplish what you have done…we will keep working hard. Our next step is Wellington Florida, at the Global Dressage Festival in February where we will compete in our first CDI competition in the FEI levels.

  10. Rhonda Ennis

    WooHooo!!! Congrats Sue and Kaytee, such a great story. It is a huge accomplishment to get to 4th on any horse, let alone an OTTB. Not many people will put that kind of time into a horse that is not bred for dressage. I know this to be a fact as I showed my OTTB to 4th also and believe me I had lots of people ask me why I didn’t just get a warmblood. I always answered “because these horses can do everything and people need to see that”. Will watch for this team doing FEI!

  11. Marilyn Vail

    A beautiful story! Congratulations!

  12. Michelle Y.

    Awesome! Congratulations!!

  13. edna

    Thanks for such a great story.

    And such an incredible pair. Sometimes we just know as horse people when we meet a horse that he or she is our “it” horse – one of those horses that only comes into our lives once. Maybe twice if fate allows.

    Is there a video of their dressage test available?

  14. Maureen

    I hope you continue to publish updates on this pair in the coming years. you could be describing my TB and our early efforts to learn dressage. this pair really inspires me to continue to in the sport. thanks

  15. Shirley

    I can remember when Devon was almost ALL TBs. This is such a nice story.
    Also I would like to find out what happened to the OTTB prodcts with that insignia. I am looking for a browband. I wrote the Product place, but they said they never heard of it.

  16. Kim Alexander

    AlRIGHT! I LOVE it!
    Aren’t these horses fabulous!?

  17. Nancy McMinn

    Please make sure to publicize the pedigree on this horse, along with the story.

    1. Sue Gallagher

      His Sire is De Niro. His Dam is Caro Mountain. He was bred by Deerfield Stables in PA. Where I bought him. He raced up to the age of 4, and was turned out into a field in August 2007 and I bought him in October 2007.

      1. Colmel

        Thank you! I had looked him up on EquineLine. Love any horse with Caro and double Princequillo in the pedigree. Horses with those kinds of bloodlines are more stamina-oriented and (in my opinion) more physically able to have long, successful careers in many different areas.

  18. Colmel

    Absolutely fantastic story! Proof positive that our thoroughbreds are so smart and so gifted that they can excel at any discipline given the proper love and training. No, they aren’t all gifted with speed for racing, but they are gifted with intelligence, work ethic, and winning attitude. It’s up to us to find out where their brilliance can best be realized – track, show ring, or being a perfect trail companion.

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