Catch Me is a fitting name for this horse, because the rest of the pack has been trying to catch up to him since he hit the hunter scene.
The stunning 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassiro—Wonne I, Calypso II) debuted on the show scene in 2013 with Cookie Beck in the irons, taking champion in his first show in the baby green hunters. It would be his first of many, many tricolors—between trainer Crystal Knight and Beck, they brought Catch Me up through the first year division before the Gochman family bought the gelding. Scott Stewart then took over the ride, piloting “Snoopy” to more wins before a mysterious case of botulism nearly claimed the horse’s life in 2015.
With his caretaker Terence Prunty’s help, Snoopy was nursed back to health, and in 2016 he and Stewart were back up to their old tricks: They won the WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular (Fla.) and took the second year green hunter championship at the Hampton Classic (N.Y.), Capital Challenge (Md.), the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.), and the National Horse Show (Ky.).
Catch Me and Terence Prunty
You can read more about Catch Me’s amazing 2016 in The Chronicle of the Horse’s American Horses In Sport issue, where he was named the Show Hunter Horse of the Year.
This year, Snoopy made his debut in the amateur-owner hunter division with Becky Gochman, and he’s already off to a great start. In the first three weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), the pair took one championship and two reserve championships in the amateur-owner, 36 and over, division. In addition, Stewart rode Snoopy to the high performance hunter tricolor all three weeks.
We went to the Gochman family’s Baxter Hill stable in Wellington, Fla., to go behind the stall door with Snoopy:
- Snoopy’s stranger danger instinct is quite keen, and when he doesn’t know you, he’s not letting you halter him—not even in his stall!“He’s a little funny sometimes in his stall. Only a certain number of people can catch him,” Prunty said. “He’ll just slowly spin around. He’s very suspicious of some people.”As if on cue, after we snapped a few pictures, Prunty went to put Snoopy’s halter on, and he began his measured moon walk backwards in a slow circle around the stall, the most hunter of evasions.“There has only been like one time where I couldn’t catch him at all, and you just have to leave him alone for 10 minutes and try again,” Prunty said with a laugh, reaching out and putting a hand on Snoopy’s neck and slipping the halter on.
- If you’re thinking Snoopy’s show name, Catch Me, came from his antics in his stall, it’s a good guess, but Prunty said it’s just a coincidence!Snoopy came with his show name when the Gochmans purchased the horse from Beck. Beck had another horse named My Pal Al and considered naming Catch Me “My Pal Snoopy,” but she decided against it. But she kept Snoopy as a nickname.
- Snoopy is no lop-eared laidback hunter—he’s quite alert and attentive in the barn, taking great interest in Prunty’s dog Scooter when he wanders into the stall. He eagerly watched out his window as other horses worked in the arena, and he was very aware of the camera clicking away when he pricked his ears.
- As difficult as he can be to corner in his stall, Snoopy is easy to catch in his paddock, and he enjoys spending time there. “He loves to be turned out,” Prunty said. “He would live outside.”
- The ring may be where Snoopy shines, but it’s not where he spends most of his riding time.“I try to get him out of the ring as much as possible,” Prunty said. “We try to do it with most of them, but some of them are not that good out there. He is amazing. I’ll just take him out and go all the way out to the canals and flat him out there. He just loves it.”
- Snoopy has no interest in getting his daisy-cutting toes wet.“He hates water. Baths are fine, but puddles on the ground, he will not touch,” Prunty said. “Last year at Capital Challenge when he was a first year horse, it was pouring rain, and it was the second day when they went outside. He had won both classes inside the first day, and then I was like, ‘Oh we’re done,’ and then he went out and won. But a single puddle on the ground, don’t even try it. If we’re on a trail ride, and we come up to water, he will jump on top of the horse next to him.”
- Snoopy has quite a leisurely life for such a top athlete—he doesn’t need a lot of training rides at home, and he doesn’t have to get schooled much at the horse shows.“A couple times a week we’ll take him over to Scott, and he’ll jump him and school him up, but he’s pretty easy. He’s probably one of the easiest horses I’ve ever worked with,” Prunty said. “I’ve never seen him put his ears back; he’s always willing to do it. And he’s good at his job, so he does it and he’s done. I never have to get into him. He’s really easy on himself.”