Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An American Mustang at Devon 2010

The Dressage at Devon Web site invites us to be part of the magic. Well,  this year at Devon we were part of history too.
"Shocker at Devon"
Padre, a ten year old American Mustang stallion, cleaned up. He won the 4 year old and up stallion class and he was Reserve Champion stallion overall. He competed against Holsteiners. Hanoverians. Oldenburgs.  And he kicked equine butt. Padre is not only the first American Mustang to compete at Devon, he went home with a neck ribbon :-) Congrats to his owner/handler, Patti Gruber at Wayfarer Farms in Illinois.

Oh, and if you think I'm overstating the accomplishment, Dressage-news.com reports on Padre's win, and the article is entitled "Shocker at Devon."The photo below is from that article, courtesy of Hoofprint images.
I'm still kicking myself for not going to Devon on the day he competed. I simply didn't know. Aaargh! I read up on his background (e.g.,  this news article) and contacted Patti a week or so after Devon. She was happy to share photos, videos, and insights she has as the Padre's owner/trainer.

 And he's not just a pretty face...
Padre was adopted through the Bureau of Land Management adoption program (Palimino Valley, Nevada) as a yearling.  Patti acquired him as a seven year old, saw his dressage potential, and  brought him along herself with help from  trainer Bereiter Huefler and others.

Did I mention that Padre is schooling third level? No matter what breed you're talking about, in my book that's a big freakin' deal. Padre and Patti were also selected from hundreds of applicants to be a demo rider for a Steffan Peters clinic held at the Midwest Horse Fair In Madison, Wisconsin. Below left is a photo from that experience. They have done some schooling shows competing a first level, with a high score of 74.3%.

What was the reaction at Devon?
In a news article in the Sept 17 Daily Herald, Devon CEO Lori Kaminsky was quoted as saying that mustangs "aren't built for the sport" and that they're "flighty."  I  think her remarks were taken waaay out of context. LK participates on the COTH bulletin boards, and she's pretty savvy. I have a hard time reconciling those statements with someone of her reputation and character.

 To follow up, though, I asked Patti about her Dressage at Devon experience, and this is her response...
Everyone at Devon was wonderfully supportive and excited to have Padre there.  The president [Ed. that would be Lori Kamnisky] and a gentleman from the board of directors personally thanked us for attending.  Other competitors were really supportive and his new "fans" cheered as we trotted by the grandstands each time.  I had a lot of questions about what type of horse he was and everyone was surprised to learn he is a Mustang born in the wild.  All the feedback was positive.  I could not have asked for a better reception and experience.
This is one of my favorite stories EVER. I just love that an attractive horse with good, pure gaits--but without the European bloodlines--can excel at Devon. I'll be sharing more pix, more of my interview with Patti, and a video of Padre, in the near future.


  1. Great to see! Go, mustangs! Any horse with the correct conformation and training can do dressage well - in fact all horses benefit - no need for big fancy warmbloods!

  2. Whoo hoo!! Plenty of sturdy useful animals available through the BLM, some lovely ones too, but this fellow is a really lucky find!

  3. This is so exciting! I've worked with Mustangs before and they are unique horses!

  4. I'm in tears...you're right...one of the greatest stories EVER!! I gentled a mustang from the Coyote Lakes HMA of SE Oregon...he was an awesome horse. I always said he would be gorgeous as a dressage horse. Now, he's a happy "husband" trail horse...but I know he could have been very successful. Thanks for posting and sharing~

  5. Wow! I'm so impressed but I guess that I shouldn't be surprised. We have a grade pony at the barn who's shaping up to be quite the dressage star but he hasn't hit this level yet.

  6. This will be a boost for the mustang adoption program for sure. What a fantastic story, the kind that all horse lovers love to hear! May they continue to rise through the levels.

  7. That mustang is quite the "Marvel".

    I always love to hear about regular horses stealing the show. It's about justice in dressage, not just fancy bloodlines or expensive breeds. And he is gorgeous!

  8. When I returned to riding after a long break, my first riding partner was a native Banker Pony - east coast version of a mustang. She was the first of the Bankers born in captivity back in the 70's.

    She was (super) smart, had boundless energy even at her advanced age, was sound every day of her life, and when I started learning dressage - I briefly found out what a fabulous dressage partner she could have been. Talk about on the bit... and so light. She was amazing.

    Sadly, she passed away this spring at 34 years old. Thanks for posting this inspirational story :) RIP Ginger...

  9. What an awesome story! My girl Abbey is BLM and I'm not competing but every time I see her arch her neck and move into a trot I think... she could do dressage very well. As long as there are a lot of carrots in it for her. :)

    Thanks for posting this great story. LOVE the picture of his freeze brand above his rider's leg.

  10. Wonderful news! A good horse is a good horse, no matter what the breed.

    My friend recently acquired a beautiful little Mustang mare she may eventually train as a dressage mount. She is a beauty and lovely mover too. This story may well inspire her.

  11. I love it!! It always makes my day to see someone upset the apple cart this way; the lone mustang maverick "kicking equine butt" [as you so eloquently put it]. Boo-Yeah!

  12. Wow, how cool is that?/
    More pictures, yes, please!

  13. I was already convinced that when I eventually can get a second horse ... or need a replacement ... that I want to adopt a mustang. Now I'm really really sure I want to. He is simply adorable.

  14. Thanks for sharing this. It is indeed inspiring. He's gorgeous. (Question: Do Mustangs not originally descend from Spanish blood lines?)

  15. That is so very cool. Good for both of them! What a great story!

  16. That is wonderful. It is great to see a team like that excel. Hats off to the person that saw potential there and did all the hard work.

  17. Very inspiring for those who don't own traditional dressage mounts. My one question, though - why does he have balls? Seems like no matter how great he is, there are already way too many mustangs out there, so I hope they aren't breeding him. It would be great if they focused on advocating rescue from the BLM and not breeding grade "sporthorses." These are just my thoughts - I don't know what their plans are for him in that realm.

  18. "Seems like no matter how great he is, there are already way too many mustangs out there, so I hope they aren't breeding him."

    There are way too many quarter horses out there, would you want to geld their top stallions?

    My impression is that mustangs count as a breed in their own right at this point (though I don't know if it's officially recognized or not). They started as a mix of anything that got loose and ran away, but many generations of natural selection have lead to a group of animals that are very sound, very intelligent, and recognizably different from other breeds both physically and mentally. I don't have an issue with people who like mustangs and want to breed high quality examples, as sporthorses or for any other discipline.

  19. WOW! Thank you so much for sharing!! This is wonderful! And he *is* lovely!

  20. Mustangs originated from the Spanish horses left behind hundereds of years ago, NOT from anything that got loose. Every Mustang will DNA test back to the Spanish horses to some degree. Padre was likely from Nevada since he was at Palamino Valley. Nevada has the largest wild horse population of the 10 western states containing wild horses.
    So, contact your nearest BLM office and ask to adopt your future dressage horse. 1-866-4MUSTANGS.
    Like any breed you will find flighty ones, and you will find calm ones who you can trust your kid's life with You'll find big ones, little ones, all different colored ones, and all are good looking, tough horses. YOu can find a barrel champ, a dressage champ, a roping champ, jumpers, cutters, trail horses and endurance horses, all in one place! Where else can you find all of the above for $125.00?
    Give it a try, do something wild just once in your life - Adopt a Mustang!


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