Thursday, May. 30, 2024

Peter Rabbit Hops Away With A Big Win

When Kilian McGrath’s invitation to show Peter Rabbit at the USEF Junior Hunter Finals West Coast arrived in the mail, her mother threw it away. “We thought it would be too much because Peter is so green, especially because we’d heard about how spooky and hard the courses can be,” McGrath said.

But trainer Leslie Steele talked them into entering, even if it was just for the experience and mileage.

PUBLISHED
WORDS BY
082809USEFsidebar.jpg

ADVERTISEMENT

When Kilian McGrath’s invitation to show Peter Rabbit at the USEF Junior Hunter Finals West Coast arrived in the mail, her mother threw it away. “We thought it would be too much because Peter is so green, especially because we’d heard about how spooky and hard the courses can be,” McGrath said.

But trainer Leslie Steele talked them into entering, even if it was just for the experience and mileage.

“We entered at the last minute. The week before, we practiced all of the things we might see in the handy round, like getting off and leading him over a jump, and all that. At first he wondered what we were doing, but then he was good,” McGrath said.

Their decision paid off with the large junior, 15 and under, tricolor. Peter Rabbit, 6, jumped to second place in the handy class and the classic round and took third in the under saddle.

“There were a lot of spooky, decorated jumps. There was a big brush wall and a hay-bale bounce that a lot of horses wouldn’t get near,” McGrath said. “Peter Rabbit just cantered around like he’d been doing it forever. I was really proud of him.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ali Nilforushan sent Peter Rabbit to Steele’s barn two years ago to sell. Steele saw his potential and matched him with McGrath.

“When we first bought him, he’d only been broke like three or four months, so he couldn’t even steer, really. He didn’t know how to go in a straight line,” McGrath said.

Steele showed Peter just once in the pre-green division last year.

“But Leslie thought he’d do better starting off in the first years because pre-greens were like speed bumps for him. He’d go around looking at everything and not pay attention. She showed him in the first years, and he was a little more impressed. He paid attention to where he was going,” McGrath said.

McGrath, 14, Westlake Village, Calif., also started showing Peter last year in the juniors.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He was really good, but he was a little wiggly. He’s only been to 11 horse shows in his lifetime,” she said. “Every horse show he grows up and gets better and better. It’s amazing how he learns so quickly. He’s the most forgiving horse—åhe has the best personality. He’s sweet and athletic. He’s kind of like a dumb jock.”

When it came time to name Peter, McGrath wanted to keep the theme of her equitation horse, Bunny.

“My grandfather helped us buy Bunny, and Bunny has big ears so I named her Bunny because of her ears, but later I found out that my grandfather used to call my grandmother ‘Bunny,’ so he liked the name. Bunny was such a great horse, I decided to name Peter Rabbit in the same way. I figured I’d give him a great name so he has some potential to be great too,” she said.

McGrath has enjoyed the journey with her green horse, especially learning to be patient.

“For me, the most important thing is even if you don’t win the class, if you have a great round, it’s the best feeling. You see them grow up, and this baby horse that you’re trying to bring along is making pogress and learning, and it’s a great feeling,” she said.

The McGraths originally bought Peter as an investment and planned to sell him, but after seeing how well he handled the handy course, they might put him to work in the equitation division as well, since Bunny is laid-up with an injury.

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse