Christy Edwards dreamed of one day seeing Reddy Or Not tackle her first advanced event. The breeder from Enterprise, Alabama, had big goals for the Trakehner mare, and she believed she’d found the perfect partner to help her achieve them in Kyle Carter.
“She loved the mare from the day she was born,” said Carter. “It was one of those that she was like, ‘This is going to be the superstar.’ ”
So it was with a sense of mission accomplished that Carter galloped through the cross-country finish with “Reddy” in 12th place in her first advanced at the Ocala Jockey Club International CCI4*-S (Florida) on Nov. 17. But he also felt sorrow, as Edwards wasn’t there to see her dream come to fruition.
In May 2018, Carter was competing at the Poplar Place Horse Trials (Georgia). Reddy was at home recovering from an injury, but Edwards came anyway to support Carter.
One of Carter’s horses had cut its face, so Carter asked Edwards, an emergency room doctor, if she could run out to a nearby store and pick up some skin glue. On her way back to the event, Edwards’ car ran off the road, and she died. She was 49.
Edwards met Carter when she was looking for a new rider for Reddy. Werner Geven started the mare’s international career and competed her to intermediate, but Edwards wanted someone to help her sell some of her homebreds, which is Carter’s specialty. An accomplished breeder, Edwards already had an upper-level horse to her credit in Copycat Chloe (Stiletto—Copy’s Dancer, Alezan Dancer), who competed to advanced with Allison Springer and Kelly Pugh. Edwards left behind nearly 20 horses, including 10-year-old Reddy (Oskar II—Raven Riley, Windfall).
While her loss was a huge personal hit to Carter, he felt devastated for her family.
“She has a daughter who she adopted who’s 16 or 17; she had a son who’s around the same age, both in high school,” he said. “And her husband, Ward [Edwards], who had nothing to do with horses; he’s military.”
Carter and Christy had butted heads a bit when they initially started working together, but their relationship soon transformed. “We saw things the same way, and our communication was great, and she was just a genuine person,” he said. “You just don’t see a lot of people that way.
“We didn’t really hit it off as student and coach because she was very much going every direction at once, and I tend to be like, ‘You need to focus and get here,’ ” continued Carter. “But we started working together, and it was going quite well. She sent in Reddy and another horse she bred with the hopes to see them go up the levels, and for me to sell her younger horses and bring them on.”
Carter and Reddy’s partnership also started out a bit rocky, but after Reddy had time off for a foot injury last year, the pair came back out in sync.
“All year she’s been the horse that Christy and I had talked about, and I hoped she would be,” Carter said. “I have had three bad fences on her all year. She show jumps really well; she tries wonderfully. On cross-country she’s wonderful. The mare just looks at the fences the way I want her to see them.”
Before Christy died, she and Carter had begun looking at the 2019 Pan American Games (Peru) as a possibility for Reddy.
“The thing with Christy is she was an amazing person,” said Carter. “If you said you wanted to do something, she was like, ‘Well, let’s figure out how we’re going to do that.’ She was a believer in whatever person was around her. There was never a stand there and scoff at it. If you had a dream, she was trying to figure out a way for you to make it.”
Coming out this season with Reddy was difficult for Carter and his wife, Jennifer Carter. “At Red Hills [Florida, in March], that was the first short [CCI3-S] we did with her on the road to trying for the Pan Ams. I finished, and Ward came over, and I was in tears,” Kyle said. “I know what it’s cost him, in so many ways, so I’m trying really hard to do the best I can.”
Though they didn’t make the Canadian Pan Am team, Kyle is committed to trying to achieve Christy’s dreams with Reddy, and he’s covering most of her expenses. The Carters have also taken her full sister to sell. They’re hoping to syndicate Reddy so they can keep her and make it to a five-star.
“Ward is really struggling to keep, not just his head above water, but he wants to keep her dream alive and work on managing his family and keeping the horses going,” said Kyle. “There are a bunch of us trying to help him work his way out of that. I am very careful with her. If I don’t think I’m in contention for a top three, then I just run her in a manner that is going to hopefully preserve her longer. I would love to see Christy’s dream come to fruition, and Ward’s support in all of this through the tragedy of losing his wife and to manage all of this stuff; I want him to get something heartfelt out of it. The stuff he’s dealing with and the way he handles it is just unbelievable.”
Kyle admits he’s a bit of a pragmatist and knows dreams don’t always come true, but he’s going to try for Christy.
“This was Christy’s dream. This is the horse,” he said. “Everything else was to be brought on and sold, so we’re trying to honor that as best we can. It was a privilege for Christy to choose me.”