Behind The Stall Door With: Patriot

Oct 15, 2018 - 11:25 PM

Patriot can be described in a few ways. He’s childproof, a carrot connoisseur, a bit of a slow walker, and a consistent ride in the ring—so much so that he’s won more than half his starts with rider Hunt Tosh in the hunters.

Ceil Wheeler purchased the gelding affectionately known as “Sam” in the fall of 2015.

“Emil Spadone found him for us in Switzerland, and he has been awesome since the day he got here,” said Mandy Tosh, Hunt’s wife. “He exceeded all of our expectations.”

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All photos by Tori Repole.

The 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding of unrecorded breeding was a prolific winner this spring in the high performance conformation hunter division with Hunt in the irons, and this summer he spent time in the children’s hunter ring with Sallie-Mason Wheeler.

We went behind the stall door to learn more about the champion hunter.

• The Toshes bought Sam off a video, and when he arrived in the fall, they decided he could skip the smaller divisions and tackle the big stuff instead.

“We schooled him at home and took him right to Florida, and the first time out we did the green conformation, and he was champion that first week,” said Hunt. “From the very beginning he was very straightforward, and he tries to win classes. He tries not to mess up.”

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• Under saddle, Sam knows when it’s showtime.

“He’s not spooky at all,” said Hunt. “He has a huge heart, so he tries to win classes for you. He’s a quiet horse but not sulky by any means, and anywhere we take him he’s never been one to spook or be fussy.”

• He isn’t fazed by a big atmosphere.

“We took him to [the Rolex Central Park Horse Show (New York)] last year, and he went great in that class,” said Hunt. The pair finished third in the $50,000 Duchossois Cup. “I hadn’t been before, so this was our first year going, and we took him. To have a horse that is as much of as winner as he is, but [one] you can also lead in the middle of New York City and show in an ice skating ring; he has that kind of mentality. He pretty much tries to do the right thing in any facility or place you take him.”

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Maddy Tosh enjoys hacking Patriot at home.

• At home in Milton, Georgia, the Toshes keep Sam’s conditioning light and easy.

“At this point in his career he doesn’t jump much,” said Hunt. “We keep him conditioned just enough [so that he] doesn’t get unfit and lazy, but between shows he doesn’t do much. He’s not a fresh horse at home, but he’s not as quiet [as Flamingo-K]. Unlike Flamingo-K, he’s great in the paddock and loves being turned out. We’re lucky to have enough room to trail ride and hack out in the fields at home, so he does a lot out of the ring as well. Maddy [Tosh, my daughter,] hacks him a little bit, and he goes on the treadmill.”

“He’s a lot of fun [to hack],” said Maddy. “He’s really easy, so he’s really sweet.”

• Sam’s world revolves around carrots, and his motivation to go forward in hand depends on them.

“He’s not much of a peppermint fan, but he’s big time with carrots,” said Hunt. “He’s a little quiet, and when we jog him or do the model we have to have a carrot. They were actually giving me a hard time [at Upperville (Virginia) this year] because I had a carrot hidden in my hand. You have to have a carrot to make him trot behind you, [and then] you can get him to go wherever you want.”

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• While he may be a bit slow on the ground, Sam’s versatility in the ring makes him a fun ride for Hunt.

“He’s a beautiful jumper, and when you know they’re not spooky, [it’s] fun,” said Hunt. “When he’s been as consistent as he is you can, in the handy or certain classes, take a shot and maybe gallop certain places you wouldn’t on other horses or turn certain places you wouldn’t on some horses. You don’t have to worry about him making a green mistake or spooking or being hard in certain places. He’s one of those [horses] where the more you call on him and the harder the questions you ask, he almost thrives off of them and gets better as he goes.”

• Sam does know a thing or two about making funny faces.

“He shakes his lips in the cross-ties,” said Hunt. “He’ll jiggle his face and lick his lips; he’s a little goofy. He [likes water] and plays with the water in his buckets.”

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