Gabriella Savatierre is used to getting stares as she heads into the children’s hunter ring on Queen Of Hearts.
While the cute mare is solid bay on her right side, look at the left, and it’s a different story. Savatierre has heard it all. “Is your horse a zebra?” “Is it soap?” “Did she get hurt?” “Is she sweating?”
“People always come up to me and ask me about her,” said Savatierre. “Every time I walk by, someone’s always pointing and staring at her. She’s kind of like a celebrity, I guess. People see her and say, ‘Oh my God, it’s the striped horse!’”
In fact, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare’s markings are called reverse brindle, and they may come from a rare genetic condition called chimerism. Chimerism occurs when two non-identical twin embryos fuse into one embryo early in their development, creating white scarring. Reverse brindling could also be a result of a genetic mutation.
Black brindle coats have also occurred in horses, including the famous Quarter Horse stallion, Dunbars Gold.
Savatierre, 17, has had “Josey,” a Dutch Warmblood of unrecorded breeding, for four years. When she first saw Josey, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to buy her because of her coloring, but her mother, Maria, convinced her she would be a good fit.
“She has a big heart, that’s for sure,” said the high school senior. “If you ask her to jump from a huge distance, she’ll go. She has a personality! If she doesn’t like something, she’ll let you know. I say she’s like Regina George from Mean Girls. She knows what she wants. We call her Princess Josey.”
Savatierre, of Long Valley, N.J., trains with Robert Beck. This year marked her first time competing in the $250,000 HITS Hunter Prix at Hits-on-the-Hudson, Sept. 5-8 in Saugerties, N.Y.
She was disappointed not to make the top 25 after the second round but admitted it was her mistake, not Josey’s. “In the second round, I kind of forgot where I was going,” she said. “I looked down and blanked, and I had to circle. I was thinking so hard that I blanked on where I was going.”
The following week though, Savatierre and Josey made up for their trip in the hunter prix, finishing second in the children’s working hunter stake class at the Marshall & Sterling Finals, earning an 84.
“She loves that hunter derby ring and the grand prix ring [at HITS-on-the-Hudson,]” she said. “She’s very attentive in those big rings. She’s always looking to jump and put her best effort in.”Savatierre is hoping to compete in the Zone 2 Hunter Finals (Pa) before moving into the amateur-owner hunter ring when she ages out this year.