Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 15
Few riders were interested in Bacardi when he was for sale as a skinny 4-year-old gelding that spooked at his own shadow in 2010. Not Peter Pletcher, not Kelley Farmer, not even amateurs who complained of the now 7-year-old’s flat feet.
But it was love at first sight for Havens Schatt. Her intuition paid off as she earned the first year green championship and the grand green championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show aboard Caroline Moran’s Dutch Warmblood gelding.
“When I first rode him in Florida for Derek Braun [of Split Rock Farm], I went into the warm-up and he stopped at every jump. Every jump,” she said. When Bacardi finally gave in and jumped, it was an eight-foot leap of faith.
Friends warned Schatt to let someone else cowboy the shy gelding around until he matured but “there was just something about him,” she said. “What he was doing didn’t scare me or make me nervous.”
Schatt, 42, is accustomed to riding young horses for amateurs, preparing them for a calm career in the hunter ring. Bacardi was too special to pass up and when he wouldn’t sell, “I stuck my neck out and bought him,” she said.
“I’ve been riding him for three years and now I know him like the back of my hand,” she said. And in that time, the tables have turned. “Last week at Capital Challenge [Md.], people were asking to buy him left and right,” Schatt said proudly.
Schatt competed Bacardi at the pre-green level for two years in order to prepare him for the level and environment he faced in Harrisburg. “I just really felt strongly that he was that exceptional,” she said, “It would be really sad to bring him to these horse shows and have stupid stuff happen when I knew he was the best one. He wouldn’t have been able to do it last year.”
Building confidence and trust have set Bacardi’s future on a path to success, but there are still spooky times. In yesterday’s classes, the first jump, a big brush, caused Schatt a little worry.
“In May in Kentucky he went up to the same [kind of fence] and jumped it perfectly and then saw the stuff on the back side and swatted at it and took off bucking!” she said.
A flighty departure from jumps at Capital Challenge similarly worried Schatt about how her trips would be.
“All this is going through my mind because I’m really the only one who rides him so I know him really well and start to psych myself out before anything has even happened,” she said.
Schatt assumed Hunt Tosh would win the top honors in the first year green division, and returned from the ceremony crying after they announced her name.
“He’s the horse of a lifetime,” she concluded, still teary after her big win. “It’s time for [Moran] to enjoy him as much as I have.”
Hunt Has His Way At Harrisburg
Hunt Tosh has waited a long time to be champion in any division at Harrisburg with Betsee Parker’s Rosalynn, and he finally got his wish as the 11-year-old Oldenburg mare took the high performance hunter championship over eventer-turned-hunter Fonteyn and Hayley Barnhill, who took home the reserve championship.
“We’ve had her forever and she’s such a trier for everybody,” said Tosh. “Betsee was really hoping she could be champion here because she’s been reserve here four or five times in different divisions, but she’s never been champion here. It was really special.”
Tosh had ridden “Rosie” as a first and second year horse and got the ride on her again three years ago.
“Betsee adores her and she has a special place in her heart,” he said.
Tosh, 36, also earned the second year green championship aboard a new ride, Douglas and Kenneth Wheeler’s Queen Lattifa. They paired up in May after the Devon Horse Show (Pa.), where the Westphalian mare won the second year green championship with Jamie Taylor.
She’s already been champion several times for Tosh, including winning the grand green championship at Capital Challenge, and he’s excited for her future.
“They’re very different-type horses,” he said of his two champions. “It’s kind of cool to have two mares walk in here and win five classes in a row yesterday. Good mares that try hard are truly special. Both horses try to win classes, which is nice. When they go well, they’re hard to beat.”
Want more Harrisburg? Stop by The Chronicle of the Horse’s official Pennsylvania National page and catch up on all the news.
There will be a full report from the senior week of Pennsylvania National in the Nov. 4 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Check out the Pennsylvania National’s website for results. There’s also a live feed at USEFNetwork.com