My Painted Dragon

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Photo by Blesk Photography

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, an adult amatuer shares about her medicine hat Paint, who has been in her life for 18 years, and how they have now taken on the challenge of dressage!

Draco as a foal

By Kathy Maldonado

Painted Dragon, aka Draco, has been a huge part of my life for 18 years now. Draco is an American Paint Horse Association (APHA) bay tovero with medicine hat markings. Native American legend believed a medicine hat horse protected their riders from injury or death. The medicine hat, or war bonnet, is the colored patch covering the poll and ears. The marking on the chest is a shield of protection. Two blue eyes were especially prized.

Draco came to us as a weanling in hopes of being a western pleasure horse. He started his career as a yearling halter horse, showmanship, and trail in hand. I kept him exposed to the show scene until he was ready to be broke.

At age three, Draco was broke by a close dear friend of mine, who explained to me Draco had more go than whoa, and was very athletic.

Photo by Blesk Photography

After trying several different disciplines on Draco, I decided we liked jumping the most. He is a busy minded horse who was always looking for the next challenge. He loved looking for the next fence and preferred jumpers over hunters because the course was always changing, keeping his mind as busy as his body.

We continued jumping until 2015. Due to a medical procedure, Draco and I had to take a break. After my surgery,  I wanted to continue learning and growing with Draco. We were introduced to a dressage trainer and we had our first lesson. Simple, right? What a challenge! Again, we were able to work as a team, with most days being more difficult than others. A new world had been opened up for us, and I started to really learn how to ride my horse for the first time.

We went back into the show ring in 2016, competing in a Training Level class. As scary as it was, after a long break from the show ring, I was hooked. The next year, we moved up to First Level, receiving Reserve Champion in the adult amateur division. The following year, we competed at Second Level, and I’ve received news we are Champion for the 2020-2021 show year, again, in the adult amateur division. Yay us!

Photo by Sara Shier Photography

Here we are in 2021 and Draco is now 18 years old. His resume consists of halter, showmanship, trail in hand, competitive trail, mounted shooting, barrel racing, ranch sorting, team penning, hunters, jumpers, and now dressage. On top of that, tons of hours of trail riding. This year, we started Third Level. I really wanted to get my USDF  Bronze Medal. At the first two shows of 2021-2022, I received my qualifying scores and earned my bronze medal. I was over the moon! Having earned all 6 scores on Draco, all while we learned a new discipline. It has been tough, yet so rewarding. I am so proud of Draco, and of  our accomplishments.

In closing, I want to personally thank my trainer, Kristine Buist, who has never stopped pushing and educating us to persevere, giving us the knowledge and confidence we needed to succeed. And to my husband, my biggest cheerleader and best friend, always supporting my equestrian lifestyle.

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