Hot Trot’n Twister, a memorable name attached to an unforgettable horse. For the 13 years I had the privilege to know the small, paint mare, “Twist” left hoof prints on my heart far larger than her shoe size. At the age of 22, and still vibrant, beautiful, and wise, she was laid to rest in the hills of Hitching Post Farm in South Royalton, Vermont. Twist’s passing has left a void I am working to fill by speaking to just how special she was. I could fill pages with stories of our adventures, but I’d like to pay homage to Twist by sharing her story.
Twist came into my life when I was 15 and she was nine. I had become REALLY good at Beginner Novice thanks to my first horse, but the move up to Novice had eluded us. Twist had gone Novice with her previous owner, Lane Rossi, and was ready to show me the ropes. We spent that first winter together, weathering the Vermont chill, and figuring each other out. By the time spring came, we were ready to run. And run we did.
Twist and I competed all over Area I from 2008 to 2012. Together we climbed the levels from Novice to Preliminary, spent hours getting lost in the woods, fox hunted, attended sleep-away camps, graduated high school, and moved away to the University of Vermont. She was my best friend and my shadow. She opened doors for me I didn’t know existed. She was my greatest achievement and biggest source of joy.
Twist was the ultimate teacher. She taught me patience when I spent hours, days, weeks, and months trying to figure out how to get her on the bit. I learned humility as I loaded her for yet another outing when she would march briskly and cheerfully onto the trailer knowing full well that her 16-year-old rider would be the one driving and that it wasn’t guaranteed to be a smooth ride. I always knew she would remain cautious and careful when I inevitably found a new trail through the trees that would require some kind of bushwhacking. But most of all, I learned to love.
While always stoic, in 2012, Twist began to lose the spring in her step. She jumped with her heart, but her body felt differently. It was clear to me that I needed to make a change for her. While selling her probably would have been the most financially stable decision, I couldn't cut the cord. I wanted to remain a part of her story. I knew she had a lot left to give, but I never wanted her to be asked to give too much. From these feelings and decisions, Twist was offered for lease. This decision became the greatest gift as I have now seen Twist move on to teach five girls everything she taught me. I’ve watched as Twist brought them from young girls to mature horsewomen. By keeping Twist in my life, I’ve had the privilege to see her write stories and make memories with these other girls. Our shared experiences with Twist have created a unique sisterhood centered around one small, blue-eyed mare, and for that, I am thankful.
Twist’s legacy extends far beyond me. The community that experienced and embraced her was loving and vast. To better tell her story, I’ve compiled the memories of those that loved her. We were all lucky to know Twist. We were lucky to love Twist; but most of all, we were lucky to be loved by Twist. Thank you to those who shared their stories, but most of all thank you to Twist, for teaching us a little bit about ourselves and giving us the rides of our lives in the meantime.
From Laurie Hudson, who gave Twist a home at the very start in 2002 and at the very end in 2020:
“I helped the Rossi family find Twist for their daughter in 2002. She was at my friend Keith Robinson’s farm in Sutton, Quebec. She was young but already a very sweet, steady girl who wanted to please. She had the greatest jump and never wavered when presented with a new obstacle. I am so very grateful to have had Twist at the beginning and end of her wonderful life.”
From Lane Rossi, Twist’s first girl from 2002-2007:
“Twist became a teacher, a friend, a confidant, and playmate for me and many others. We went on countless adventures together, and frequently lost track of time getting lost in the woods. She LOVED to jump, just as much as I did, and she knew how to have fun. At the same time, when there was a job to be done, Twist showed up ready to work. She taught me well that there is a time to conduct yourself with poise and grace and a time to be carefree and playful.”
From Kate McAllister who leased Twist from 2013-2015:
“Twist completely changed me as a person. She was the greatest teacher I have ever been blessed to know and is one of the greatest friends I will ever have. She was my first love and the first horse I truly clicked with. Whether it was a gallop in the field after a mountain of homework had been (almost) completed or at a recognized competition, Twist was always my strongest feeling of home. I was the best version of myself looking down between those little brown ears and I do not know who I would be or where I would be if I hadn’t had her in my life. Twist, we miss you so much but love you more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for taking care of us all these years.”
From Katie Doucet who leased Twist from 2015-2018:
“Twist was one of the most special horses that I have ever encountered in my riding career. Not only was she an amazing teacher, but she was truly my best friend. We understood each other on a level that I can’t even begin to describe, and over my four short years of riding her, I developed a bond with her that will affect me forever. She saw me at my worst and at my best and taught me so much about myself. Twist was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, and everyone who got the chance to meet her knew how special she was. I will never forget her vibrant personality, which always let you know just how much she hated the vet! I will miss her more than I can say in words but feel so blessed to have been a part of her life. While she is gone from our physical world, she will live forever in the hearts of those who loved her. Goodbye for now blue eyes, I’m sure we’ll meet again someday. Love forever, Katie.”
From Sydney Gallien who leased Twist from 2018-2020:
“Twist taught me so many invaluable lessons in the two years I got to spend with her. She took me to my first Beginner Novice and later Novice level event, she took me to my first hunter pace, first beach ride, and so many more firsts. She was the most dependable and trustworthy partner I could have asked for to help me gain confidence on horseback. She was the best girl, and I’m so lucky to have gotten the chance to ride her.”
From Sarah Murawski, the mother of Evelyn Murawski:
“As the mother of an aspiring young eventer, Twist was the absolute perfect partner for my daughter, Evelyn. Twist treated her with kindness and trust, took care of her when she made mistakes and challenged her to ride correctly and fairly. There is no better way to learn than to be taught by a horse like Twist. I sometimes joked that all I needed to do was whisper to Twist which dressage test was required and show her the maps to the jumping courses and she would take it from there. I will forever be grateful and thankful for the time Evelyn had with Twist.”
Lastly, this is from Evelyn Murawski who was Twist’s final girl in 2020:
“Twist was the best pony (I know she's a horse, just pony sounds cuter). In the short time I had her, Twist brought me up to Beginner Novice from Elementary. But most important of all, I enjoyed our time together riding around bareback (she was probably the best bareback ride ever), giving her baths and having a fluffy pony for the rest of the week, and jumping some big jumps with her. I miss her but feel so lucky for the time we had together.”
I loved looking at the world from between her brown ears. I loved her bright nicker when it was time to go outside. I loved that she always brought me home. I loved and still love everything about that little mare, and while I feel my eyes brim with tears when I think about her, the pain of her loss is slowly beginning to be replaced with the joy of our years together. Thank you for letting me share her story. Thank you to those who contributed their own - you are all part of Twist and she is part of you. But most of all, thank you to Twist. Thank you for the laughs, lessons, and love. It’s been the best ride. Goodnight my sweet girl.
As USEA members prepare for the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, the USEA is pleased to share “The Business Toolkit For Eventers” from our educational partner STRIDER. This webinar is part of their popular Professional Development Series for Equestrians, which features experts from across the horse industry speaking on business topics relevant to equestrian sport.
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Adult rider Dan Kreitl recently claimed his first FEI win in The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI 4*-L Eventing National Championship, but his eventing story traces way back to his Dressage roots in high school. USEA podcast host Nicole Brown sat down with Kreitl to talk business, family, and, of course, eventing with the Muncie, Indiana native.