In life, sometimes things come full circle. That has been the case for Yoscha Bosche (Joyeux Danseur x Grau Frau), a now 19-year-old 15.3-hand off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding who left the track in the fall of 2004 after eight disappointing starts, never finishing higher than sixth place. “When I went to look at him, he was so tiny – he looked like an Arabian,” recalled Martha Lambert, who purchased “Yoshi” off the track late in his 3-year-old year. “But, I just had to have him. I even took someone back over there with me and said, ‘Have I lost my mind?’ Turns out, it was the best thing I could have done.”
Martha brought him back to her Lands End Farm in Louisville, Kentucky, gelded him, and began the process of retraining him for the sport of eventing. In the spring of 2005, Yoshi ran his first Beginner Novice event at River Glen, followed by his first Novice event six weeks later at the Spring Run Horse Trials. By the end of the summer of his 4-year-old year, he was competing successfully at Training level.
In 2006, Yoshi moved up to the Preliminary level and at the end of the year finished 12th in the one-star (now two-star) at Midsouth. The summer of the next year, at just 6 years old, Yoshi ran his first Intermediate at Champagne Run with Martha in the irons. Small as he was, Martha wasn't sure about his ability to be competitive in the dressage at the highest levels of the sport. So, instead of saving him for her daughter Lauren, Martha made the decision to put Yoshi up for sale.
Meanwhile, in the early 2000s, Marcia Kulak was invited to Iowa by her friend and fellow trainer Dr. Stacy Thacker Anderson to teach, and that’s where Kulak first met 13-year-old Michelle Chester (who would eventually grow up to marry Marcia's nephew and become Michelle Kulak.) Several years after first being introduced to Kulak, Chester was looking for a young horse that she could produce up the levels, and so she and her parents went on a shopping trip to Kentucky. “Originally I wasn’t even looking for a horse that had already gone at that level,” Chester said. “I wanted something a little younger that I could produce a little bit.”
Chester and her parents went to Martha’s barn to have a look at some of her horses, and Yoshi was one of the ones they pulled out for her to see. “He wasn’t really what I was looking for, but I just fell in love with him,” Chester said. Anderson and Kulak, who both advised on the sale, agreed he was a good fit for Chester. “He was a small, nimble horse and Michelle is petite – they suited each other really well,” Kulak recalled.
So, in the early spring of 2008, Yoshi went home to Iowa with Chester. The following winter, Chester and Yoshi traveled to Florida to winter with Kulak in Wellington, winning the Junior/Young Rider Open Preliminary at the Florida Three-Day Event that April. Chester and Yoshi summered with Kulak in New York that year and eventually made the move to New York permanent.
“He was a little bit different of a horse for me to ride,” Chester said. “He was more electric, so I had to learn to control my body a little bit more – not push so much and keep him relaxed. But it helped me become a better rider.”
“Yoshi had a great temperament,” Kulak reflected. “He was always a little bit nervous in the dressage, but we did some physical maintenance and treated him for ulcers and he really started to come around. His mind was always very good, and he was simply a cross-country machine. He was a careful but brave jumper and lightning fast.”
Chester and Yoshi continued to find success at the Preliminary level together, and Kulak even took the reins to pilot Yoshi in the Preliminary Horse Championship at the 2010 USEA American Eventing Championships. In 2011, Chester and Yoshi were ninth in the CIC* (now CCI2*-S) at the Stuart Horse Trials.
In the fall of 2011, Yoshi colicked. “He was in my care at the time, and he has torsion,” said Kulak. “We’re not sure how, but I went out for night check one evening and I could tell he wasn’t quite right. We got immediate veterinary attention and got him right to the clinic and on ultrasound they said it looked like the intestine wasn’t quite right, and the Chesters said to do whatever he needed.” So, Yoshi went in for colic surgery.
Luckily, the surgery was straightforward and Yoshi came out without any complications. By January of the following year, just four months later, Yoshi was back to full work. “I just marveled at the horse’s temperament – he was very stoic,” Kulak said. “Those horses are the warriors of the sport.”
When Chester made the decision to go to law school, she decided to sell Yoshi on. “I bought him when I was living in Iowa and he went to New York with me when I moved so I could compete with Marcia and her crew. The whole summer experience having him around was wonderful. He was a wonderful horse and I was sad to sell him when the time came.”
Kulak competed Yoshi for a year while she worked to sell him for Chester, picking up several top finishes including second place in the Preliminaries at Rocking Horse and the Stuart Horse Trials and winning the Preliminaries at Millbrook and GMHA. “Initially, I worried that marketing him would be a bit of a challenge because he was a bit small, but he had an impeccable cross-country record and in the end he marketed himself,” Kulak said. “He was a little pocket rocket. I think those kinds of horses are valuable and few and far between.”
Kulak need not have worried, as Canadian Young Rider Lauren Clark, a student of Jessica Phoenix, ended up purchasing Yoshi in the early spring of 2013. In their first event together at the Grandview Horse Trials they were seventh in the Open Intermediate. The following month, they were second in the Intermediate at Wit’s End. That summer, Clark and Yoshi represented Canada at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Kentucky, where they finished individually in 18th place.
“He showed me the ropes of the upper levels and took me to my first FEI competitions,” Clark reflected. “Yoshi was an amazing first upper level horse and taught me tons! He has the biggest personality and truly loves his job.”
In the early spring of 2015, Audrey Green was in Florida looking for her next horse. “At the time, I had only competed through the Novice level. So, I was not expecting to come home with a horse that had successfully competed at the FEI 3* level.”
Green was looking at horses at Phoenix’s barn when they brought Yoshi out. “The first time I rode Yoshi at Jessica Phoenix’s barn in Florida sparked an instant connection between me and him, and when this sassy little Thoroughbred attempted to bite and kick the vet during his pre-purchase exam, I knew he was the one,” Green said.
Green and Yoshi went back home to Texas and spent the next three years at the Training and Preliminary levels, competing at the 2015 USEA American Eventing Championships in the Junior Training Rider division and earning several top finishes including sixth place in the CCI* (now CCI2*-L) at the 2017 Texas Rose Horse Park Horse Trials. “Throughout the years and across many states, Yoshi brought me up the levels of eventing,” Green said. “‘The Professor’ as Yoshi was nicknamed due to his insistent desire to teach riders rather than pack them around, taught me to be the competent rider I am today. With the help of Yoshi’s knowledge and skill, I competed from Training level all the way up to the FEI [one-star, now] two-star level. Yoshi’s grandiose personality not only made him a thrill under saddle but a horse not to be forgotten.”
Audrey Green and Yoshi jumping clean in the CCI* (now CCI2*-L) at the Colorado Horse Park in 2016.
Yoshi passed then to 10-year-old Anna Mitchell. Mitchell’s mother, Angie Kilpatrick, explained, “I owned Yoshi for about six months in 2018 – he was purchased for Anna as a move-up horse. Although he taught her a lot and she even schooled multiple Training/Preliminary questions on him, at the shows he told us he wasn't quite ready to go around a Beginner Novice/Novice course with a young kid!”
Kilpatrick advertised Yoshi for sale in the summer of 2018 and, in a twist of fate, it was none other than Lauren Lambert, Martha Lambert’s daughter, who saw the ad. Lauren had moved to Texas a few years prior and urged her student, Natalie Allport, to take a look at him. “I was not looking for another horse, but my trainer, Lauren Lambert, told me I needed to come see this one,” Allport said. “She thought Yoshi would be perfect for me as I looked to move up from Training, where I had been competing. I loved him but didn’t think that I would be able to get him, but my parents surprised me with him for my birthday.”
After a couple Novice level events together to get to know each other, Allport and Yoshi moved up to Training level. Last fall, they traveled to the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships, finishing 19th in the Training Rider divisions. This summer, at the age of 19, Yoshi once again competed at the Preliminary level with Allport in the tack, finishing in fifth place at both the Feather Creek Farm Horse Trials and the Texas Rose Horse Park Horse Trials.
“He is such a fun horse, not only at shows, but every day at home because he has such a funny personality and always gives 100 percent,” said Allport. “Next for us is the CCI2*-S at River Glen at the beginning of August, which has been one of my goals for a long time.”
“He’s a barn favorite everywhere he goes with a personality three times his size and has taken care of so many kids at the upper levels he should be knighted,” Lauren added. “I [love seeing] this special horse get the recognition he deserves for his years and years of making girls’ dreams come true!”
At 19 years old, Yoshi has 47 Preliminary level completions on his record with an additional six one-star and three two-star completions. Adding in his seven additional Intermediate level completions, Yoshi boasts over 60 upper level event completions over nearly 15 years competing at the upper levels.
“He is the sort of horse that is the backbone of eventing,” Kulak observed. “I rode him in the AEC at the Preliminary level in 2010 and here he is in 2020 still going. I just think he’s defied the odds and he’s a special, wonderful horse.”
The USEA Horse Heroes series celebrates equine athletes who have contributed to the sport again and again, competing with multiple riders at the upper levels of the sport. Do you know of a horse hero who deserves recognition? Email your tips to [email protected].
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