Scout’s mane hadn’t been braided for a show in three years, nor had he seen the tack in quite some time, but Hugh Worsham, DVM, had a hunch that it might be worth pulling his daughter Mattie Worsham’s retired junior hunter out of the field. Degenerative issues meant the warmblood gelding of unrecorded breeding had retired to the paddock life in 2015. But Hugh, who has his own practice, Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services, wasn’t ready to give up on Scout.
“It was not the plan to bring him back; [it was] experimental more than anything else,” said Mattie. “One day in 2018 my dad said, ‘Let’s look at Scout,’ and we pulled him out. I got on him for the first time in three years and jumped a 3’3” coop with our miniature horse chasing him, and we decided that maybe he could come back.”
Two years after that fateful coop-jumping, mini-chasing day, the 23-year-old from Aiken, South Carolina, and her 19-years-young partner of a decade stepped into the ring at the Tryon International Horse Center (North Carolina) to compete in the WIHS Adult Hunter Finals. They sat in second place after the first round, and if Mattie felt nerves, she didn’t show them as she walked Scout into the ring. But landing off the final oxer, her happiness couldn’t be contained as she patted Scout around what would be his final finishing circle. He’s heading back into retirement, but this time on the winning score of 86, above Helen Voss and Cantina.
“I feel so grateful that we were able to have our finals during this time,” said Mattie. “I think it was so important for people to be able to come back together even though the world is different, and circumstances are different, and everything has changed. A great source of comfort for me during the early days of quarantine was that the horses still have to be fed every morning.
“It is a dream and very redemptive to get him back here, especially since we grew up together,” she continued. “This is his last hurrah. He will have a very happy long retirement after this at our farm in Aiken. I live in the barn right next to his stall. I will still be riding him, but this will be it for him in the show ring. It was really nice to be able to end it here.”
Stell Gets Her Mojo Back
Coming back from quarantine onto the horse show scene, Margaret Stell felt rusty. The months away from the showgrounds left her a bit disoriented, but her partner of two years, Clever, lived up to his name and reintroduced her to the routines.
“We took so much time off that when we first came back in June to do the children’s it was a little bit rough,” said the 17-year-old from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “I had to get my mind back straight. My horse was there the whole time, I just had to reconfigure how I was thinking about it. Clever is perfect. He is all try. He is down to do anything. You could point him at the moon, and he was so, ‘If you are down to jump the moon, let’s do it.’ He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
Despite the odd year, Stell and the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clarimo—Rapunzel IV) found themselves contesting the WIHS Children’s Hunter Final. And with her mom by her side grooming for her and assistance from trainers Pat Dodson and Keith Hastings, Stell topped the class above Olivia Sweetnam and Sunman.
“It was very unexpected even qualifying for this,” she said. “The feeling of coming out here and winning is amazing.”