Even in a barn full of winning hunters, Reese’s knows he’s the biggest star. The charismatic 10-year-old bay Zangersheide gelding (Spartacus TN—Carabelle, Contendro) owned by West Coast Equine Partners occupies the first stall at Nick Haness’ Hunterbrook Farms, and he takes it upon himself to greet everyone who enters.
“He knows he’s Mr. Hot Stuff,” Haness said. “As people walk in, this beautiful face pops out and says, ‘Welcome to the barn.’”
Reese’s has the show record to back up his self-confidence, with numerous wins and championships from the young hunters to the 3’9” green hunters to the 3’6” performance hunters. Named the 2021 USEF National Hunter Derby Horse of the Year, he has been successful in the international derby arena as well and, most recently, won the $10,000 Adequan USHJA National Hunter Derby on Jan. 20 at Desert International Horse Park (California). He was also the 2022 USEF Horse of the Year in the 3’3″ performance hunters, money won.
“He pretty much came out of the chute a champion,” said Haness. “Every time we’ve gone to the next level he’s been successful. He figured it out very quickly.”
We stopped by Hunterbrook Farms in Temecula, California, to go behind the stall door and find out everything there is to know about Reese’s.
• Haness found Reese’s on a European horse shopping trip when the gelding was 5 years old.
“He was one of the first horses my boyfriend Ryan and I got together,” he recalled. “We saw him in Germany and pretty much fell in love with him immediately. He just has an incredible beauty about him and a really bold presence.”
• Haness loves showing Reese’s because “he’s my soulmate in a horse. I know what he’s thinking all the time, and I know I can trust him and he can trust me. I think that’s why he’s had so much success.”
• Reese’s is a dream in the handy classes.
“He’s so adjustable. He can turn on a dime to any fence and maintain this amazing composure and beautiful expression on his face,” Haness said. “He’s scored a lot of 90s and high 90s, including a 98 this past year in the handy.”
• He’s named after Reese’s candy because he has a dark coat with some lighter brown accents throughout, like a peanut butter cup.
• In addition to being a showstopper, he’s a nice guy.
“He just has a really sweet, loving personality. He wants to be a puppy dog and be in your lap. He never gets in trouble, but I feel like he’d be really sensitive if he ever were to get in trouble. He wants to be everyone’s best friend.”
• Speaking of friends, Hunterbrook is chock full of animals, and Reese’s gets along with all of them. “He’s very curious and friendly with everybody, and he loves all of the weird animals. He loves to watch the alpacas and the zebra run around.”
• Reese’s also loves his turnout time—maybe a little too much.
“We had to design him his own turnout, because he tried to jump out once. So he has his own special pen now that’s just for him, where he can buck and roll and enjoy the sunshine.”
• The only thing he loves more than turnout time is grain time, and he considers it his responsibility to sound the alarm when the feed cart arrives.
“He’s the first horse to notice the feed cart in the aisle, even though it’s on the opposite end of the barn as his stall,” Haness said. “He knows, and he whinnies so loud to tell his buddies. You know it’s him because his whinny is a very unique, high-pitched screech.”
• At home he usually takes it easy, with some light flatting and trail rides. “He’s always been amazingly brave and natural at the jumps, so the less I train him at home, the better he is.”