He Feels Like Home

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We are celebrating Splash of Color month on YourDressage!  Whether your horse is a registered Paint, Appaloosa, Knabstrupper, or Gypsy Horse, sports a patched or spotted coat, or wears lots of chrome, this month is for you!

Dressage enthusiasts who ride colorful horses have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards such as the American Paint Horse AssociationAppaloosa Horse Club, Knabstrupperforeningen for Danmark (KNN), Gypsy Horse Registry Of America, Westfalen Verband of North America, and Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, which are all Participating Organizations.

We recently asked our social media followers to share photos of their loudly colored horses, and let us know what makes these horses so special. Here, a dressage trainer shares about the young Westphalian pinto who stole her heart.

By Brittany Lincoln

As a professional rider and trainer, I am extremely blessed with amazing horses to ride, train. and compete. However, having that one “heart horse” of my own to bond and connect with had eluded me. I always dreamed and hoped for a horse of my own that I could love, trust, and build a trusting partnership with. Then I found “Vee”. 

Vivaldi is a 2018 Westphalian gelding by the talented jumper stallion Valentino out of Spring Silk, a beautiful Sempatico pinto mare from JMR Pintos in British Columbia, Canada. He’s already an elegant 17.3 hands, a gorgeous bay pinto, and a very special part of my life. 

In 2017, I started my search for a high level dressage prospect of my own. My longtime coach and mentor, Leonie “Button” Baker and I searched the internet excitedly, searching for that one extra special horse that really stood out from the rest. Little did I know it would lead me to a colorful pinto! 

When Button sent me Vee’s sale video, I was curled up on the couch after a chilly February day, having some hot tea. I opened the link, watched captivating videos of him showing off his incredible natural movement from as early as one month old, and instantly told my husband “Wow! He is the one!” Everything about him screamed “superstar”, especially his color and confidence. 

I contacted his breeder, Martha Drennan of JMR Pintos, immediately, to learn more about this special horse. Martha expressed to me that Vivaldi was a very exuberant, tall boy with lots of natural talent. I shared my experience and high level dressage goals with her and before I knew it, he was on his way from western Canada to his new home in North Carolina with me. 

The day Vee arrived was one of the best days of my life. He traveled beautifully across the country and came off the trailer with a huge smile and a sparkle in his kind eye. The shipper handed me his lead rope and off we went to his deeply bedded oversize stall with a warm mash waiting. The moment I looked in his eyes, it felt like home. It was an amazing feeling, and I truly believe he felt the same. The bond and connection were instant. 

Some of my friends and clients, including Button, were at the farm to greet Vee as he settled into his new home. Although exhausted from his long trip, he was so happy to meet everyone. He slurped down his mash and a fresh bucket of water. He was amazingly relaxed and confident, diving right into his food and water. As the initial excitement faded, he came to me, hung his mash-soaked muzzle on my shoulder, and fell asleep. I tucked him in that night feeling so grateful and happy. I had finally found “the one”. 

Vee settled in very quickly, like a seasoned show horse. I learned about his personality quickly. He communicates clearly and is not afraid to let his big personality shine through. He absolutely loves his food. He is a budding and demanding foodie! Every morning when I come around the bend in the driveway, he is waiting outside his stall in his runout paddock, staring at my car and whinnying for his breakfast. In the evening, he watches my every move as I close up the farm for the night, waiting for his dinner and mom time. 

Since his arrival, he has blossomed into the horse I imagined in my dreams. He is such a loving, trusting, and understanding old soul. He has always been very trusting, confident, and sure of himself. Whatever I present him with, he seems to say “Oh, we are doing this now. That’s cool, mom!” 

I started to play with the idea of backing him for the first year. I wanted to give him plenty of time to process what I was starting to do with him. I would frequently play with the step stool by his side and walk up and down it, pretending to get on him. I was able to put his boots on, saddle pads, saddles, girths, and bridles without an issue. 

Soon enough he was mastering ground work, lunging, long lining, and going for hand walks on the trails around the farm. He really loves working and learning new things. All I have to do is call his name and he lets out a big whinny and runs to the gate, ready to go to work. He tries so hard to please and understand what I am asking of him. 

Shortly after his third birthday, I decided it was time to swing a leg over and back him. The moment I got on, it felt like home. He gives me an incredible feeling as he is extremely comfortable, balanced, and connected at just three years old. I am still blown away when I feel him move or see him in the field. He is an absolutely incredible, expressive mover with a natural fluid rhythm and relaxation. 

Before long, we were walking, trotting, and cantering around the arena for short periods three days a week. After every ride, he is so proud of himself with a great sense of accomplishment. We both think it is very important to have mints or sugar cubes on hand to reward his good work.  He searches my pockets, twists and turns his neck sticking his nose out like, “Hey mom! I earned treats!” He quickly trained me to have the mint wrappers open and ready before we even start! 

My highest priority for any horse I have in training is that they feel happy and confident in their work. Vee is all that and more. I mix things up as much as I can for him, riding around the fields and trails, and doing ground pole exercises so he’s always learning something new and fun. His long term work ethic, health, and confidence are of utmost importance to me as we begin to climb the training scale. 

Photo by Lune Bleu Photography

I have always had top level goals and dreams, and I hope to bring Vivaldi all the way up the levels successfully to Grand Prix. I want to let his incredible talent and beauty be expressed in the show ring for years to come. I hope he thrives, not only in the show ring, but in life itself. I believe in him with all of my heart and look forward to this incredible journey with my wonderful, colorful, sweet, and special boy. 

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