Jul 19, 2023

Now On Course: Rescue Horse Perfect Storm is Excelling at Eventing

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Mia Valdez and Perfect Storm. GRC Photography photo

When Mia Valdez first met Perfect Storm, he was meant to be a lesson horse at her barn, but “Tempe” didn’t take to the lesson horse life, and after a few rides together, Valdez knew he was meant to be hers.

The pair have been together for four years and made their Preliminary debut this year, but when Valdez first got Tempe, neither had any eventing experience.

The now-13-year-old Saddlebred-Trakehner gelding was rescued from an auction by Camille Sarah when he was 4. He’d been bred to be a driving horse, but didn't like the job, so his owners gave up.

“He did not take to driving at all,” said Valdez. “Tempe is a very sensitive and gentle soul. I could not imagine what they did to make him send people to the hospital. They pushed and pushed until they finally gave up and chucked him in a field in Minnesota for the winter. They left him there until spring, and when he came back in, he was still alive, and that’s when he was sent to auction. He was not in good shape, and he just looked so broken, and [Sarah] told her mom she needed to pick him up because he was going to go on the meat truck.”

Perfect Storm was not in good shape when he was first rescued. Photo courtesy of Mia Valdez

According to Valdez, Sarah had rescued other horses from auctions and turned them into competition horses, and she got Tempe healthy and confident under saddle and sold him to the owner of her boarding barn. That owner kept him for a year, then sold him to Valdez’s barn to be a lesson horse when he was 9.

By the time Valdez bought him, Tempe had learned to jump 2’6” and done some trail riding and hunter pacing.

Valdez was interested in jumpers, so she and Tempe competed to the 1.10-meter level and started to get help from eventer Lainey Ashker in 2020 near her home in Goochland, Virginia.

Ashker convinced Valdez to try cross-country schooling with Tempe, and they were both hooked.

“From there everything else has kind of blossomed,” she said. “The dressage, not so much, but he lives for cross-country.”

Valdez says that although Tempe can be weary of new people and sometimes needs a good look at things he's unsure of, he’s been a wonderful eventing partner.

“This spring I celebrated four years with him,” she said. “From the moment I first met him we’d always had some sort of connection. He’s always taken care of me, and every year since then I’ve just grown to love him more and more. He’s the horse that I just want to go sit on bareback, go on a trail ride, do anything. I never have to worry about anything when I’m riding him. He always takes such good care of me. There’s a trust there that I’ve never really had with another horse.”

Photo courtesy of Mia Valdez

In addition to eventing, Valdez is active in her local foxhunt, Keswick Hunt Club. She’s also a C3 in eventing in the Mountain Skyline Pony Club and her local USEA Interscholastic Eventing League team. Tempe is not a fan of the big groups out fox hunting, so Valdez usually rides another horse.

“I’ve met so many people out fox hunting that have given me so many different opportunities,” she said. “It really helps to make me a well-rounded rider. Out fox hunting, you don’t know who or what you’re going to cross, and it’s really given me great common sense and safety rules that I use at home even out hacking.”

Valdez’s mother, who used to ride Saddlebreds, is German, and her father is Guatemalan, and she’s proud of her heritage. She received the Strides for Equality Equestrians’ (SEE) competition grant to compete at the Peterson & Smith Barnstaple Educational Three-Day in Florida last fall.

“It’s just an amazing organization,” she said of SEE. “Their message is so important to me. Creating diversity and inclusivity in our sport is so important. It goes beyond our sport, but they’ve done a really good job. [The three-day] gave me such an insight on what a Classic Three-Day Event is, and I had such a great time learning from everyone.”

Valdez is hoping to continue to get miles at preliminary and maybe a CCI2* with Tempe before he helps another young rider learn the ropes of eventing. She recently started leasing a Thoroughbred named Midas Aiko who she’s hoping will give her some experience in dressage.

The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Lindsay Berreth to be featured.

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