The Right Horse Finds Us

Dressage at Devon 2021

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, a rider who was rehabilitating from a broken back shares about the young Trakehner who came into her life at the most unexpected time – and has become her Prince Charming!

By Emily HaddenMorris

 I started riding when I was five years old.  From the very first moment, I was hooked!  I ate, slept, and breathed horses.  If I wasn’t riding, I was playing with Breyer horses or setting up jump courses in the backyard for our family dog.  I used to bake cookies and sell them to neighbors to get cab fare to the barn.  I was a very successful Junior in Hunter/Jumper and Equitation, and I was a working student for renowned jumper, Michael Elmore, in Middleburg, Virginia. I was the girl that would get on pretty much anything and ride it around.  No fear! 

Being coached by Natalie Lamping at the beautiful keepsake equestrian center

To support my riding, I began working as a firefighter, then a medic, and eventually earned a B.S. in Nursing.  I have worked as a Trauma Nurse at a Level 1 trauma center and have served as a Flight Nurse.  I currently work as an Emergency Room nurse in Weirton, West Virginia. 

I discovered dressage about 30 years ago and began riding with Eiche von Veltheim.  I currently ride with Ryan Yap, Laura Kosiorek Smith, and Natalie Lamping, and I’m the owner of Russell’s Landing Dressage.  I have competed through Fourth Level and trained my own horse through Prix St. Georges.  I have trained many young horses who have successfully competed at Dressage at Devon.

In 2019, I suffered an accidental kick that resulted in me breaking my back in six places.  In addition to that painful and debilitating injury, my core strength and my confidence were both destroyed.  Things that were previously easy were now hard, and my body would not do the things I asked.  Things that never bothered me in the past, like a spook or a buck, now spiraled into a panic.

Dressage at Devon

About that same time, I had a young horse that needed to be started. I was struggling to do that during my recovery on an 18 hand Hanovarian with big gaits and a sometimes-surly attitude.   I took him to work with my trainer, Laura Kosiorek Smith.  It was at her barn where I met Chez Versailles (Oatie).  He was a sales horse at her barn.   I certainly wasn’t looking for another young horse as I was struggling after my injury with the young horse I already had and working my regular job as an ER nurse during Covid.  I was stressed at work and depressed because I couldn’t do the one thing that had always been my safe place.  But Oatie was there.  He was a stunning boy.  He had the most kind and soft sweet expression.  He reached out to me.  He knew I needed him.  We purchased him in October 2020, and he has been one of the most easy-going young horses I have ever worked with. 

Even though I was struggling with confidence and getting my body to do the things I needed it to do, Oatie never failed me.  Even as a young green horse, he took each day and new event without batting an eye.  His willingness to be there for me and to support me gave me the focus I needed to find my zen space so that I didn’t fail him.

My beautiful Chez Versailles sporting his 4 of his Adequan®_USDF All Breed Awards from the Trakehner Association of North America!

We started our show career in May 2021.  The first day we arrived at the event, there was a monsoon-like storm.  We did our first ride, and at the end, the rain had stopped and there were double rainbows right behind the ring.  I had tears in my eyes as I knew that was a sign that it was all going to be okay.  We had a very successful summer.  We won most of our classes and won 4 Adequan®/USDF All Breed Awards in Materiale 4 and 5-year-old stallions and geldings, Training Level, Vintage Training Level and USEF Four-Year-Old.  Nationally we finished 22nd in Materiale, 29th in the USEF Four-Year-Old, and 16th in the Training Level Vintage Cup competing against horses who had been under saddle far longer.  We finished our season with a great show at Dressage at Devon.   Oatie took on this electric venue without a care and we placed as high as second; I was thrilled.  We are aiming for the FEI 5-Year-Olds for 2022 with our eye on the Grand Prix. 

Oatie as a newborn. He was so tiny, he wore a dog blanket. He’s now 17.1 hands!

Chez Versailles’ dam is Caressa by Martini, who was a Grand Prix dressage stallion and the leading Trakehner sire in USDF qualifiers in 1991, and first or second on USDF Leading Sire List from 1994-2001.  Coktail is the sire of Martini, and he was sired by the international Eventing star Habicht.   Caressa’s dam line goes back to Corrida, who was one of the few survivors of the Trek out of East Prussia at the end of WWII.  This dam line has produced many greats, including EH Connery and Consul.  EH Connery is the sire of EH Imperio, ridden Grand Prix by Hubertus Schmidt, and was on the reserve list for the 2016 Olympics.  Caressa has also produced the Premium filly, Charming Persuasion by EH Buddenbrock.  Caresssa was known for her ability to look after other horses that needed her, and I feel Oatie definitely has this trait

My 78 year old mother Janet with her pippin – my biggest supporter

Chez Versailles was sired by Tarkenton Q, who was sired by the Elite Stallion Oskar II, who was born at the famous Kirov Stud in Russia.  Oskar II’s pedigree combines the top sport horse bloodlines with a touch of Arabian blood, to add excellent type and an exotic appearance.  Oskar’s sire, Khokkey, is a well-known producer of over forty offspring that have reached Grand Prix Level.  Oskar’s dam line carries the best and most successful jumping lines available in Russia, including Champion jumping stallion Ossian and his grandson Blesk, also USSR Champion in Jumping! Among others, Blesk sired the well-known stallion Biotop, International dressage champion under Reiner Klimke.  Oskar has outstanding movement, nearly perfect piaffe and passage, and has himself successfully competed at Grand Prix Level under rider and trainer Hokan Thorn.  As a sire, Oskar produced very long-legged and modern offspring. His offspring have tremendous trainability, and kind and sweet personalities.  Tarkenton’s dam was Tofu sired by Mendelssohn, a Canadian Grand Prix dressage champion.  Mendelssohn stood to very few outside mares.  Sadly, Tarkenton was lost after only a few foal crops.  

Coming back from a serious injury is not easy.  I was so fortunate to have this kind, sweet boy who somehow knew I needed him to make my life okay again.  I truly believe that horses find us, we don’t find them.  Every day I look forward to his hugs – he will wrap his head over my shoulder and hold me close to his chest.  He is my prince.

Leave a Reply