January 23, 2014--Havens Schatt and Bacardi are already off to a good start in 2014. In the seven-year-old KWPN gelding's first show of his second green year, Bacardi and Schatt were champions of the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Second Year Green Working Hunter at FTI WEF on Thursday afternoon. Schatt piloted Bacardi to four blue ribbon rounds over fences and placed third in the under saddle class.
The reserve champion for the division was As Always, ridden by Jennifer Hannah and owned by Jennifer Smith. The pair were first in the under saddle and fifth, second, fourth, and second over fences.
Schatt and Bacardi had quite the year during 2013 in the First Year Green Working Hunter division. Together they picked up seven division championship titles, culminating with being crowned Grand Green Hunter Champion at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Caroline Moran, Bacardi's owner, was thrilled to see her gelding off to an equally successful start in 2014. Bacardi and Schatt topped their final over fences round on Thursday with an astounding score of 97.
"I didn't think he could beat himself when he was a First Year horse, but I think he's jumping the Second Years even better. He is just an amazing horse," Moran commented.
Bacardi's steadfast attitude in the show ring is what Moran believes gives him his edge.
"He's just so consistent. He can be a bit of a brat at home, but whenever he comes to the ring he's all business and is just a consistently good horse. In my opinion, he's getting better and better," she continued.
Moran, an accomplished amateur rider, has gotten in the saddle a few times herself, but is happy to watch Bacardi flourish under a talented rider like Schatt.
"When Havens prepares him to go to the ring, he's absolutely perfect, so my job is not difficult," Moran laughed. "He's just an all-around great horse and of course she rides beautifully. She makes everything look so smooth and every horse look so easy. I think she's just a classic rider. I think she's a smart rider. She picks and chooses where she wants to show the horses and only when they're ready. I think she's a good horseman."
Schatt emphasized that slow and steady was the only suitable approach for Bacardi, although she never had any doubt that he would turn into the champion he has become.
"I had in my heart that he could be an amazing horse and I really felt that if you rushed him, you were just going to turn him the wrong way. He was a little bit tricky at first, but it was more just to let him go at his speed than push him to do something he wasn't really ready for," Schatt described.
From the start, Bacardi has been a favorite mount for Schatt, who enjoys the unique opportunity she has been afforded to have a mount of her own.
"My job is young horses and making sure they're ready for their amateurs. He's really the only horse that I've ever had that's been really just for me. I've not really had an owner that let me have a horse and do [what I want]," Schatt explained.
She continued, "I love riding him. That's why in the very beginning, even though he was a little bit of a pistol, I wanted to have him for myself. He just always seemed to suit my ride. He's got an amazing rhythm and for a little horse, he has such a big stride. The way his jumping style is, and his front end is so correct, you don't have to be perfect at every distance. If you're a little tight or a little long, he's going to take care of it for you as long as you tell him what you want. That's always a nice feeling."
Schatt is equally grateful for her long-standing friendship with Moran. Schatt has ridden horses for Moran for more than 10 years and is comforted knowing Bacardi will always have a loving home.
"She's such a great person. She loves the horses as much as I do. If he didn't want to do Second Years for some reason, with what he's won and what he's done with her, she would do adult [amateurs] or just play with him. He has a home forever and she's a great, great person," Schatt expressed.