Photo By: Tony Vecchiolla, AAF Images.
Kathleen Schmidt of Glen Rock, PA drove her homebred paint/Welsh cross, Outloud, to a win at the Gladstone, NJ Horse Trials this summer.
When York County, PA horsewoman Kathleen Schmitt found she didn’t have anyone to ride the last of the line of foals out of her Paint mare, she thought her daughter would be interested in driving the gelding. But that didn’t happen, which is probably just as well as the Glen Rock woman found herself involved with him. That led to a win for the pair in the training single pony class at this summer’s Gladstone (NJ) Horse Trials.
The win was quite a feat as the two-day show fell on the hottest weekend of the summer and even the shade trees around the U.S. Equestrian Team’s training headquarters couldn’t stave off the mid July humidity and heat.
The last in a long line of foals out of his dam, the crossbred pony was not to be handed off to children to be a hunter pony. He topped out at 13.1 hands, too short for Schmitt. She was out of children who could ride him since her daughter was soon to graduate from high school and showed little interest in the discipline. Her son was into eventing and hunters, so driving was not on his agenda.
Thus the grey gelding was to remain at the Schmitt homestead until the homebred Welsh cross matured enough in mind and body to be ground broken at age two. With thoughts that he might be suitable for driving, Schmitt, a former eventer and dressage rider who has been driving for six years, got her start on the box seat by taking lessons from driving guru, Paul May. She augmented those instructions with lessons from driver/competitor Anne Council.
“It made me feel like I was 15 again,” she said with a smile. Although she felt confident in herself and what she could do in a carriage, she didn’t seek out competitions. Instead she spent a lot of time with “Mumble” on groundwork to increase her skill with the reins. Another constraint she had to overcome was finding the time to take off for a show.
“There never seemed quite enough time to fit everything in,” she recalled of those days raising a family, being a homemaker and tending to her animals. Her Paint mare had produced several “very nice babies” but the mare was getting beyond her productive years. Mumble was to be the last of her youngsters and the only one by Rowfantano Golden Sovereign, Randy and Amy McQuay’s typey Welsh stallion.
“I had always admired his babies. And Randy and Amy taught us so much about breeding,” she pointed out. So it was an easy choice to cross him with her mare, which had dropped several nice children’s ponies. Five years prior to the colt’s birth Schmitt had begun to drive and discovered how much she enjoyed it. But she and her husband, who worked for start-up companies, were at a juncture in their lives. They had moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania and promised their children they would not move again until the teens graduated from high school. Once their youngest finished her senior year in high school, the couple decided it was time for them to move back near their family in Virginia.
Break for Gladstone
So the Schmitt’s put their present home on the market “and I began packing up 20 years’ worth of accumulated things,” she said with a grin. With time even more limited, a break to compete at Gladstone might seem strange but a lot of things came together at the right time.
“I think the pony and I were ready for it,” she mused about her decision to strike out in the world of combined driving. Besides, she said, she had heard so many good things about Gladstone, the historic home of Hamilton Farm, the training headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team and the birthplace of the Gladstone CDE. Plus Paul May was to be her navigator.
“Since I had heard nothing but good things about Gladstone I decided it was time to jump in and get both feet wet,” she explained. Mumble was “right on” from the moment he put his hooves into the dressage ring where he seized the lead with a 46.10-point score. After the mini marathon he added only six points to finish ahead with a 52.10-point tally. Proud of how well her grey homebred had done, Schmitt made up her mind about next year.
“I am definitely coming back,” she said with a smile.