His full name is Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon, but Jessica Jo Tate calls the 10-year-old Connemara gelding “Gideon,” “Giddy,” “Super Pony” or, on occasions he’s earned it, “Cheeky Pony.”
Gideon (Gun Smoke—Kynynmont Tara, Greystone McErill) has been in Tate’s string for four years. His owner and breeder Pam Lidell originally sent him to Tate with a handful of other horses. Tate, being 5’10”, didn’t expect to ride the 15.2 ½-hand Gideon, but once she did she fell in love, and the two have been a powerful duo ever since.
“He just handles himself and the work and the riding so well,” said Tate. “He’s really ambitious and has so much personality. He’s a little stinker sometimes though. He’ll be fine in the arena and then walking back to the barn he’s like a little terror. He’ll be bucking and whinnying and just carrying on. It’s good he’s small; he might be hard to handle otherwise.”
• Gideon is competing at the small tour level, so Tate keeps his training at home fun to avoid souring him to the work. The two won the Intermediaire A and B classes at the CDI*** at Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania) in 2018 and finished in the top 10 in the Developing Grand Prix championship at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions (Illinois).
“He’s so much fun; he just makes me smile every day,” Tate said. “He’s a horse that just comes out and attacks the work. He’s always perky and ready. He’s happy to do everything; he’s happy to eat, to go in the field, to go to the ring.”
• Gideon doesn’t have a problem with his height, and neither does Tate…but they also wouldn’t pass up some growth serum if anyone’s got some on hand.
“I wish he was a little taller because I think the judges would totally see him differently if he was bigger,” Tate explained. “He’s not technically a pony, but even if he was bumped up to 16 hands I think they’d have a different view of him. He’s so unique; we want him to become a crowd favorite and make everyone feel good because he loves his job.”
• While not technically a pony, Gideon can do a near-perfect impression of one.
“He’s the strongest horse in my barn, and he can be a little Mack truck sometimes,” Tate said. “He’ll just plow through things like, ‘Get out of my way, I want to do it!’ And you have to be like. ‘No no no, wait, be patient.’ Sometimes the pony temper comes out; he’ll stomp around and snort and have like, a little tantrum because he thinks I’m trying to control him, and I’ll laugh and be like, ‘I’m not controlling you, but you need to be able to halt and like…listen.’”
• Gideon also has a pony-sized appetite. He’s insulted by hay bags but tolerates them—mostly. He doesn’t have a discerning palate and will take you up on pretty much any treat.
• For all his antics, Gideon has proven to be as stalwart and hardy as his wild Irish ancestors.
“He’s just full of himself, you can tell just looking at him, but he’s so good,” Tate said. “We were riding once, and it was raining, but it was just normal rain; we were fine. Then all of the sudden a huge bolt of lightning and clap of thunder struck, I swear, in our backyard. Gideon schooched forward, and we were both scared, but he didn’t try to take off or buck. He’s a special guy, for sure.”