The Golden Ticket

Photo by Caitlin Demura Photography

Renowned for its floating trot, the Trakehner is one of the lightest & most refined warmbloods. We are celebrating this breed as our March Breed of the Month on YourDressage! Join us all month long as we celebrate Trakehners with photo galleries and exclusive stories!

Dressage riders who choose Trakehners as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All Breeds Awards program – the American Trakehner Association and the Trakehner Association of North America (TANA) are both participating organizations.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special.  Here, an adult amateur from Region 9 shares how a special golden Trakehner came into her life as if fate planned it, and their whirlwind of adventures together in the 5 years since.

By Bonnie Parker

As a kid, I drew horses all the time – mostly Arabians with their beautifully shaped heads.  While in middle school in suburban Long Island, the only way I could be near horses was by working at a polo stable where I learned by watching, listening, and eventually exercising polo ponies.  When I was 35, I was able to acquire my first horse, an 8-year-old Off Track Thoroughbred gelding. Still, I had always dreamed of starting a young horse and sharing the journey together. So, I scanned countless horse sale ads.  Trakehners stood out to me with their beauty, refinement, athleticism, and temperament, but I also seemed to be drawn to buckskins.  So, my unicorn was going to be a buckskin Trakehner – if I could find one.  

She first appeared in 2015 – a beautiful buckskin 2014 Trakehner filly for sale online. I fell in love. But I was already boarding my Thoroughbred and lived in a subdivision with no place for a yearling.  The dream went on hold.

Two years later, I was still looking for buckskin warmbloods online when I found a buckskin Trakehner mare. It turned out to be the same mare I had seen two years earlier.  Could this be fate? 

There was also another buckskin Trakehner gelding for sale. Having been warned about mares, I thought the gelding might be a better choice. Plus, he was already started.  But he was also over my budget.  I solicited the advice of my barn friend, Sheri, and showed her both horses.  She owned a mare and said she wouldn’t have anything else. She took one look at the videos of her and said, “I love her, you have to get her!”

This is when common sense was lost and the desire to fulfill a lifelong dream began!  I talked myself into it by justifying the mare’s age and hatched a plan. At three, I could begin all the groundwork. The next step was to convince my husband that this was a good idea (not a horse person and quite the hurdle!).  My Thoroughbred at this time was 23 years old and had been really struggling through the winter.  I honestly had no idea how many winters he would get through and really had hoped to have a younger horse. I laid out the current horse status and my thoughts for the future, and my husband gave me the green light to inquire about the mare.

Photo by Stephanie Svatek Reed, taken at the ATA Convention

I called the owner and learned that her dam was an Anglo-Arab (omg, now I really am in love!) and her sire an advanced eventing Trakehner.  The more that we talked about Golden Ticket, her barn name is Tiki, the more I realized she was the perfect horse for me.  No bad health or habit issues, she just was not going to be that tall.  Perfect for me because the older I get, the less distance I want to the ground!  We agreed on a purchase price, and I bought her sight unseen.  I saw her for the first time when she was unloaded from the horse trailer at the boarding facility.  She traveled great, was highly inquisitive about where she just landed and promptly relaxed in a paddock from her long journey from Tennessee to Texas.

We spent that first year getting to know each other on the ground.  She needed to learn a lot – lunging, ground driving, and how NOT to believe she was a 900-pound puppy that wants to be sitting in your lap.  She is an in-your-pocket/people-person horse that had to learn to respect me as her leader.  I also had to stop hugging her all the time (that was hard).  

My goal was to have her inspected by the American Trakehner Association (ATA) and get approved into their studbook.  I also had hoped to get her approval as a performance mare in the hopes of attaining her Performance bronze (P*b*) status through dressage.  A nice goal that the ATA fosters is various performance levels for the horses in all disciplines.  Tiki’s sire, Tatendrang P*s* (performance silver), has his in eventing.  My goal is to have the first buckskin P*b* mare registered in the ATA studbook.

The ATA inspection was in October 2019 where she would also have to run through the jump chute.  In preparation, my friend who had studied and trained in Germany, helped set up a small jump chute for practice before we attended the 2018 Young Horse Show Series (YHS) Dallas qualifier. All went well, although I was quite nervous since she had never jumped that high.  The handler assured me that she would be fine, and the judge knew how high she could go.  She was great, received an 8 (excellent) for willingness, and qualified for the finals.  Also in 2018, I needed to get her started under saddle and luckily found Roger Daly to put her through his riding bootcamp training for three months.  There she learned patience, tolerance, and how to be a good riding horse.  I was thrilled to be able to ride her for the first time and ecstatic about how awesome her canter felt. 

The following year, when she was five, we started off with some local schooling shows to get her off the property and exposed to various venues.  All went smoothly and with the assistance of my new trainer, Janice Mauren, we took her to her first USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized show that August.  I had never shown in any recognized shows, so I deferred to Janice’s expertise as her first rider in Training Level.  Scores were in the mid 60’s, and it was a great barometer to see what we needed to do with her training.  October 2019 finally arrived, and it was time for her ATA inspection in Tyler, Texas.  Again, as an extremely nervous owner, I deferred her handling and riding to a fellow ATA member.  She was promptly accepted into the ATA studbook, held her own in the performance test arena with some older, seasoned mares, and became the first buckskin performance mare in the ATA studbook!  Her new registered name became Golden Ticket *P* and now the work up the dressage levels begins.

Photo by Caitlin Demura Photography

The decision was made that I would be the rider in the next recognized show that November in Athens, Texas.  It was my first recognized show at age 53, and her second recognized show at age 5 – what a combination!  I was nervous and wished I had a sign on my back asking the judge to show some mercy for whatever performance they were about to see.  I was pretty shocked that first day to not only receive a 68 and a 66.5, but win Adult Amateur Champion in Training Level!   After that first performance, we couldn’t wait for the next show.

Then the pandemic began.  Everything was shut down in March 2020, along with all the horse shows.  When the first show opened that June in Houston, my trainer was itching to go show.  So, we hauled down there in the hot, humid Texas weather, fully masked the entire time.  The masking was not pleasant, but I wanted Tiki to experience an extremely large venue with both indoor and outdoor arenas.  I also knew that if the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships were held that year, they would be in Houston at that venue.  We earned our first 70.96, qualified for the Regional Championships in Training Level, and my trainer instantly said it was time for First Level!  We qualified for Regionals in First Level in the next shows and participated in our first Regional Championship in both Training and First Level.  Although 2020 started off rough, we had great success, winning Dallas Dressage Club Adult Amateur Reserve Champion in First Level, ATA Best Score in 3 shows, and ATA Horse of the Year in Training Level!

This year, the plans are to keep working toward Third Level by showing in both First and Second.  We would love to be able to show Third next year but want to perfect the lower levels to showcase her talent.  Maybe throw in some Freestyles for fun.

In the past five years with Tiki, I have learned so much about training, riding, and the Trakehner horse.  I never knew it was the oldest warmblood breed in the world, dating back to 1732 when the main stud was originally founded.  Our goals are still to earn Tiki’s *Pb* and perhaps I could earn my USDF Bronze Medal.  I also hope to breed her in the future for some very special foals. 

This mare has given me goals I had only dreamed of as a kid and never imagined as an adult.  Through our five-year relationship, I’ve also gotten to meet so many special horse and Trakehner enthusiasts.  I’ve learned so much from them and am extremely thankful for their friendships.  She is truly my best buddy and heart horse, and I would love to continue riding her to one day join The Century Club.  We’ve got about 19 years to accomplish that and keeping my fingers crossed we can both get there together!

P.S.  – I still have my now 28-year-old Thoroughbred gelding and recently acquired a new 3-year-old Trakehner mare.  Go Trakehners!

Leave a Reply