We hear all the time about horses at the top of the sport, but what about the next generation of equine talent? EN’s Got Talent introduces the future superstars of the sport, interviewing riders about how they’re tackling training with these youngsters. Have you spotted a spectacular young horse at an event you think should be highlighted in this column? Tip me at [email protected]
Last week on EN’s Got Talent, we met Absaluut Annabelle, a 5-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Jane Dudinsky and ridden by Kate Samuels. Kate told us more about the gray mare, who oozes talent but needed some training on how to think through challenges without getting too emotional. With the help of more lateral work and groundwork, Annabelle began to relax more in the ring and showed a natural ability when it came to competing.
Jumping has proven to be one of Annabelle’s strongest suits as her eventing career progresses. “She’s a very careful jumper and quite aware of her own body for her age,” Kate said. “She’s certainly never seen a jump that is challenging athletically. You can set up almost any grid and she can use her fancy footwork through the whole thing.”
Kate has been working with Annabelle to slow her rhythm through courses, as she previously had a tendency to run with her head in the air and rush the fences. “She’s a good mix of brave and a little spooky, so when you’re riding down to a fence, she looks at it well enough to change her own balance, which allows you to just close your leg and she goes right over.”
Kate took Annabelle to compete in the Open Training division at Carolina International at the end of March, where the mare scored a personal best in the dressage with a 29.6. “She really put it together at Carolina. She was super in all three phases, and I really felt like we were clicking. It was her first sleep away competition, so I was pleased with how she handled the constant atmosphere.”
Annabelle went on to finish second in her division at Carolina International, adding only a rail to her dressage score. Kate plans to move the mare up to Preliminary at the Loudon HT in May and then take it from there. “I like to compete my horses on a monthly basis, unless there is something they just really need to school constantly. However, Annabelle just needs to work on strength and consistency in dressage, and we can work on that at home. Our year-end goal is to take her to a CIC*, and I think that’s reasonable.”