Love for the Underdog

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By Emmalie Hatch

“Emmalie, you know you’ll be competing against high level warmbloods, right?” is a statement I hear at almost every show. Yet, it’s also a statement that fuels my determination.

At the age of 16, I found dressage with my now 14-year-old Morgan heart horse, On Assignment, better known as Scooter. Actually, we originally were in the western realm. He started off being terrified of any arena he stepped foot in, and I swear he had tried to kill me at least once. Then, he started to work his heart out for me and help me accomplish my dreams. Through countless natural horsemanship instructors, Scooter became a pretty cool pony.

My sophomore year of high school, I joined the local high school equestrian team and, basically, poured my soul into it. My junior year was when everything changed. At the last equestrian meet of my junior year, I made dressage my “throw in” class, meaning it wasn’t something that important to me. I had spent two years eventing, while on the equestrian team, only to figure out that dressage was our gig. I found that I absolutely loved dressage, it was a game changer. The next show, Scooter knew exactly what the whistle meant, and he went down the centerline in the most stylish way.

My senior year of high school rolled around, and so did the first meet. Shockingly enough, we placed first. Then the next show came, and we placed first again. Then, we qualified for the Washington State Meet. There, we placed second, which then qualified us for the Pacific Northwest Regionals. When they came around, we were named champion in our level! The vibe Scooter put off, in the dressage arena, was contagious. I think Scooter and I became addicted to dressage that instant, or at least I did.

Emmalie and Scooter at the Pacific Northwest Regionals

Through countless schooling shows, Scooter kept placing in the top five, against the fancy warmbloods. My 14.2 hand pony was dazzling the dressage arena and the judges. A light bulb turned on in my brain, and I went, “Why am I not going recognized?” In May of 2017, we went to our first recognized event, and placed first. I was absolutely thrilled with my pony and his recognized debut. The next morning, I woke up to an exciting surprise- I was highpoint champion of the show! The continuum of recognized shows throughout the year placed us incredibly high, either placing first or second. We qualified for the Great American Insurance Group/ USDF Region 6 Dressage Championships, placed in all three of our classes, and conquered our 2017 show year. At the end of the year, Scooter and I placed 4th in the USEF Region Horse of the Year for the Morgan breed.

Emmalie and Scooter at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 6 Dressage Championships

After countless shows, and being accepted into multiple clinics, Scooter and I have totally fallen in love with the sport of dressage. This year, we will be showing in six shows across the state of Washington, along with my other horse, Bear. In October, I will be going to Virginia to ride with Lauren Sprieser and, hopefully, raise or make enough money to take Scooter with me. Our plan is to travel up through the levels and earn my USDF Bronze Medal with him.

My pony is often underestimated, and that’s okay. The warmbloods and fancy dressage horses are amazing, but my pony, Scooter, will always make me proud and win in my heart.

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