Aug 18, 2018

The Road to AEC: Riding for Lydia

Sue Gaskill and River at The Event at Archer 2018. Kelly Walsh Photo.

When I told my friend Lydia Dequine that I was going up to Dubois, Wyoming to look at a Thoroughbred that was on Craigslist, she immediately said she would join me. The lady I talked to about the horse said, “You will like him, you just need to come see him." She worked for a dude ranch just outside the Wind River Indian Reservation. She told me that this gelding wasn’t really working out for their program. I figured that meant he was probably a little too “hot” to be a dude horse.

I was kind of in need of a new event prospect. The horse I was trying to develop wasn’t at all brave, so I wanted to find another horse that would be a better fit. So Lydia and I jumped in the truck and drove up to Wyoming. When we pulled into the ranch I thought, “Where am I going to even try out this horse?" The ranch was on the side of a hill with sagebrush and boulders everywhere. No round pen, arena, or even a cleared off flat place. When we walked down to the pens where they housed the horses, there was this big bay Thoroughbred in a tiny pen by himself. He was seriously (probably 200 pounds) underweight - ribs and hipbones showing and no muscle tone. He looked terrible.

Sue and Lydia with their friends Jane Worrall, Nichole Ackerman, Annette Reals, and Mary Jane Hosch at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Photo courtesy of Jane Worrall.

We decided since we had made this long trip up, we might as well check him out. I asked Lydia to trot him in-hand back and forth a few times. Then, even though I felt kind of bad about putting tack on this skinny creature, I went ahead and got on. We walked around in the sagebrush and went down the road a little ways. All he wanted to do was go back to the other horses. I finally rode to the end of the road where there was a little area where I could put him on a 15 meter trot circle. He was being very ornery, but with time he began to soften his body and come into my hands and listened to the aids! I rode him all the way back in a walk on a loose “on the buckle” rein. The wranglers watched as we rode back and one asked me if I wanted a job!! I looked into the horse’s mouth and he did have a tattoo, but I could not read the whole thing. The wranglers told me that he had come off the Wind River Reservation and that’s all the history I received. I think he was probably claimed off the track and lived his first winter trying to survive out in the sage with the Indian ponies.

My friend Lydia, who always had “cowgirl sense” and kept me seeing reality, looked at me and said, “You know Sue, this is not a rescue!" She was right, but I could not leave this animal in that small pen. I also felt like he was trying and maybe with time, he would become a good horse. I ended up bringing him home.


River (right) with his buddy Ray (left) at the Abbe Ranch Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of Sue Gaskill.

That was 2015. I’ve spent a few years putting weight and tone back on this horse. I’ve evented him at the lowest level, trying to gain his trust and confidence. This year, when I found out that the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships were going to be in Colorado, I made it our goal to try to qualify. We've had clean cross-country rounds since last August, but didn’t have the placings. We finally achieved that at the Abbe Ranch Horse Trials in June, where we placed second on our dressage score.

My inspiration, friend, and advisor Lydia passed on in 2016, but her memory will live on - I am dedicating my ride at the AEC to her. We may not place, but the once skinny Thoroughbred that I named “Wind River TB” and I hope to have a good ride in her honor. Ride on!

Dec 07, 2021 Young Event Horse

The YEH Yearbook: Class of 2015

Over 40 horses competed in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old East and West Coast Championships in 2015. The YEH East Coast Championships were held during the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland, while the YEH West Coast Championships took place at Galway Downs in Temecula, California. Following 2015’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2015 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have gone on to make their mark on the upper levels of eventing.

Dec 06, 2021 Education

USEA Podcast #298: Ask The Experts

Nicole Brown is joined by a panel of experts including top FEI veterinarian Dr. Emily Sandler-Burtness, five-star eventer Will Faudree, and professional eventer and horsemanship expert Tik Maynard to answer all of your biggest questions.

Dec 05, 2021 Education

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: The Present is a Gift

I’d like to start my Holiday Pressure Proof Tip with an excerpt from my new book Bolder Braver Brighter.

"Imagine leaning against a tree while your horse grazes happily beside you. You feel the warm sunshine and breeze on your cheek, hear the chirping of nearby birds, and smell the fragrance of the grass and wildflowers. Your horse nickers quietly and all you can think about is how lucky you are to have this horse and this sport and this life… right here, right now.

Dec 04, 2021 Profile

Now On Course: The Four Year Journey with My Horse Cross Match

On a crisp morning in December of 2016, I dragged my husband to Penn National to look at some horses to hopefully be my next eventing partner. I also had a horse to look at in Maryland at Kate Chadderton's farm. Keep in mind every horse I wanted to look at was a gelding. I did have a couple at Penn National that I really liked and then went to look at the one Kate had. After I rode the gelding at Kate's she asked me how I felt about mares. My response was, "I don't, but bring her out."

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