Dressage Dominoes

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Spotted and special!  February is Appaloosa Month on YourDressage!  Easily recognizable for their colorful, spotted coat pattern, this American breed finds its origins with the Nez Perce Native American people. Join us as we celebrate these beautifully marked horses as our Breed of the Month, where we will share stories and photo galleries from Appaloosa enthusiasts across the country.

Dressage competitors who ride Appaloosas have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as Appaloosa Horse Club is a Participating Organization.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special.  Here, a rider from Region 1 shares the story of falling instantly in love with an Appaloosa mare named Domino, their adventures down centerline, and the untimely end to their show career.

By Ginny Weber

I came into Domino’s life when she was 14 years old, and she had already had two babies. Domino (aka Shez Country Magic) is an Appaloosa with a coat pattern called Near Leopard.  She is Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) registered, her sire is ZipposCountryBoy and her dam is Mahagony Chick.  This is not a typical dressage horse line, but she moves like a dream.

For a year, I had been leasing an Oldenburg that was not interested in doing dressage. I started looking for a new horse to lease and my trainer, Danielle Sintoni, had another client that had some horses that didn’t have riders. I met with Cory Delehanty, Domino’s owner, and arranged for a test ride. I fell in love right away with Domino’s looks, and then I saw her move and knew she was the one.  The other great thing was meeting Cory and developing a lifelong friendship.  Cory has had Domino since she was a yearling. She had been able to take her on trail rides and let her two boys ride her around. Cory is an Appaloosa expert, and I learned quite a lot from her about this breed. There is so much to know about genes, coat patterns, and breed lines. 

I started to lease Domino, and we began taking weekly lessons. We even entered schooling shows to get to know one another. 

After about a year, we got her all registered with US Equestrian and USDF, including declaring for the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards. We started entering USDF shows in Region 1 at Intro Level. Showing, for us, was a great time.  My trainer had a lot of great clients, and we got along so well. We used the shows as a weekend getaway.  It took Domino a few shows before she wasn’t as tense in the classes.  She sometimes caused a stir in the warm-up ring when some of the solid warmbloods, especially chestnuts, saw her for the first time.  They would stop and do a spooky stare at her spots.  One year in Lexington, Virgina, there was a mini show going on at the same time. She got to meet her doppelganger in mini form.

In 2016, Cory offered for me to be her new owner.  I did this and we transferred to a new barn where my trainer resided.  In the same year, we did well enough to earn the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Appaloosa Horse Club Reserve Champion at Training Level.

We continued to show and moved up to First Level, but missed out by fractions of a point for any more championships.

In July 2020, Domino developed Immune-mediated Keratitis in her right eye.  We treated it and it stayed away until December, at which point she developed Glaucoma in the same eye.  We visited the eye specialist and began treating her eye three times a day.  It didn’t respond to treatment, so in February 2021 we went to NC State, where they evaluated it and found three additional issues, so we made the decision to have it removed.  She did really well with adjusting to having only one eye. 

We continued with our Second Level training, and she was getting the half-passes and flying changes down.  In July, she was ever so slightly lame, so we gave her a week off and tried again.  She was okay, but then lame again. The vet came out to evaluate where the problem could be, but was unable to determine the exact location, so we went for a bone scan.  This revealed, with a huge black dot, that the problem was in her left hock.  It was recommended that she retire from the ring. So while her competitive career has ended, to me she will always be ‘the one’, and she now spends her days enjoying being a pasture ornament and trail horse.

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