A Dream Come T-RUE


By Jill Graf

I am a Nurse Practitioner (NP) hospitalist and have been working, at times, 24/7 through Covid. I had a wonderful horse, Titan, who was trained to Prix St. Georges/Intermediate-1 (who had his own incredibly wonderful story) and I had hoped to show, but those plans were derailed…thanks Covid. He very sadly passed away a year ago, fracturing his tibia standing up after successful colic surgery. It was sudden, shocking, and devastating. 

I began looking for another horse to show, as my beloved Stewart is getting older and doesn’t need to show anymore.  I posted on Facebook after Titan died that I would be looking for a second horse who was sweet and kind, and whom I could  compete at whatever levels we were comfortable doing (which is lower levels for me at this point). I wasn’t particular about breed, color, et cetera. 

My dear friend, Dr. Kate Shoemaker, an equine veterinarian in Wellington, as well as Paralympian and international dressage competitor, responded to my post, “I believe I have the horse for you. I have been keeping my eyes open for the right place for my special boy…you are welcome to lease him first, as I want it to be perfect for all.”

Unfortunately, my fantastic trainer and dear friend, Trish Hutchinson, had an emergency appendectomy (during the middle of a horse show!) which pushed our plans back for a few weeks, but in December we flew down. I met him in his stall where he greeted me with a pitchfork in his mouth—my kind of playful puppy dog personality in a horse!  I knew instantly that it was a match. Kate rode first, then Trish. He was spectacular. I got on, and as soon as we started walking, I exclaimed, “are my hips supposed to move like this??”  Trish assured me through her tears of laughter that yes, my hips were supposed to move like that. 

I fell in love…my only question was, could I ride him? They both assured me that I could. I bought him and yes, I can ride him.  He is a blast, and yes, my hips have to move like that.  

I found out that he had been at the ranch where I boarded in Scottsdale before I moved back to the East Coast, although in a different barn.  I never knew him as I was working far too much then. Talk about serendipity.

David Nunn trailered him to me in Maryland shortly after Christmas. I stayed up all night, and had custom cookies made for his welcome party when he arrived!  It was a far cry from the somber memorial service we had when Titan died a few months before. 

Rue helped heal my broken heart, especially following the deaths of one of my dogs in March, and my other dog just three days before we left for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. He fought cancer for 18 months, including amputation and immunotherapy. 2022 has been a very difficult and sad year with the pandemic, along with the deaths of three out of my four beloved animals, as well as family members.

Trish has shown Rue this year while we get to know him, but I can proudly say as an adult amateur that we scored an 80 at Intro in our only test this summer! ❤️😁  It is a testament to Trish’s riding and teaching that she is willing and able to show a horse while sharing the ride with his owner, both doing well, and qualify for and attend Finals. 

We never expected to be at Finals less than 11 months after I brought Rue home, but he and Trish had an absolutely outstanding show season as we got to know him better. 

To have Rue be so amateur friendly for me, while being super in the ring and a total love in the barn, means so much. He is even best friends with Stewie. I cannot thank Kate enough for putting us together; Rue is a dream. Kate has a true knack for matching horses to riders, as evidenced by her many successful matchings, as well as her own generous loans of para horses to riders, making dreams come true for many people. She is making my dreams come true for sure. Rue has a heart of gold and is kind, silly, and playful, which is exactly what I need in my life.  I can’t believe he’s mine. 

As far as Trish goes, she moved from Western New York down to Maryland, starting her business over in Maryland. She has never been to a US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® before!  She is a full time accountant, and teaches and trains dressage full-time.  We are so very fortunate to have her.


We are thrilled to be here in Kentucky at Finals and are looking forward to finding out whether Rufano is a mudder tomorrow, as our championship class is scheduled to be in very cold and rainy weather.  He won his warm-up class and we are hoping for a great ride tomorrow as well.

Post-Finals Update:  We do not have a mudder this year!  Poor Rue was very tense in his class, which is very unusual for him, but he still did very well and placed fifth!  I am overjoyed with him and can’t wait for next year!  We are incredibly lucky to share our lives with these amazing souls.

Trish Hutchinson is an FEI Bronze and Silver medalist dressage trainer and instructor based on the Eastern shore of Maryland. She grew up in Fillmore, New York, and has worked for equestrians such as Olympian Sue Blinks, as well as developed her own business, Hope Hill Dressage.  She is currently schooling PSG on her own horse while teaching a variety of students from Training Level through PSG. To better understand, appreciate, and work with horses, she has pursued many different disciplines—from dressage and eventing to western pleasure and driving multiple horse hitches—and has chosen to work with many different breeds and types of horses, from Warmbloods and Off-Track Thoroughbreds to mules and miniature horses.  Trish enjoys the opportunity to problem solve, both with horses and with their riders.  As such, she has developed a reputation for her abilities to work with problem horses, and to start young horses under saddle. She and a business partner are in the process of building a new facility with the goal of it becoming a premiere training facility on the Eastern Shore. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Houghton College and still works full-time as an accountant.

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