Today marks a very special day in our horsey life, it is Walter's birthday. His story starts out as so many horses, born in Germany with impressive blood lines, successfully competed on the European circuit before being imported for a rider's lofty Olympic goals. The partnership did not end well, literally leaving Walter standing alone in a Grand Prix field. Luckily for Walter, a groom from his barn bought him and together they had a great career competing in the 1.30m jumper along the West Coast circuit, as well as Spruce Meadows. As typical with many horses, Walter had met his prime in the jumper ring, moving down to 1.20m was now his comfort zone and so his owner decided it was time to find him a new partner. A top trainer from Calgary had a client who leased Walter in 2013, just for a week to hop around the Hunter ring, but in that week he stole everyone's heart. Tracey affectionally referred to him as a "Saint."
In 2014, we were looking for my daughter's next horse, a Junior Hunter that would start her in the Children's that year. Walter was on our list but timing was not on our side, he was not ready. Flash forward to that summer, the stars aligned and Walter spent a week showing (Thunderbird Show Park) with Kaelyn. Two weeks later, he was safely in Calgary. Purchasing him was't easy, older horses don't often pass the pre-purchase with flying colours; plus he had fractured his pelvis years ago resulting in a "funny" trot. We were told he would never win a hack class....but we still wanted him....he only has three good legs....but we still wanted him....you will never be able to re-sell him.....we knew that we were never would!!!
The show season was half over when Walter & Kaelyn finally stepped into our provincial circuit. If they wanted to qualify for Nationals, there was no time to waste. One thing about Walter, when he steps into the ring he is all business. Championship after Championship, they quickly rose to the top. Top scores in the Children/Adult Classics, there was no stopping this team. They finished top in their division and qualified for National Finals at The Royal Horse Show. As we headed to Toronto, we had that heart to heart talk. Yes, Walter was amazing but now he is competing against "real" Children's Hunters. We knew they would be "Fancy" & probably have four good legs. That didn't stop Walter. He and Kaelyn were first into the arena, together they jumped three beautiful rounds, and placed in all three classes. Their top placing was third in the Classic with a score of 84, (Needless to say, no ribbon in the Under Saddle but a fan asked if he was an Arabian) I will never forget that day.
Walter is one of many horses that can give a kid something that money can't buy. He gave her a dream, and together they achieved it. Walter is still part of our family, this year he is helping another aspiring rider achieve her goals. He is a bit of a celebrity around here, the kind of guy that you only have to meet once to fall in love. He is a fan of selfies, banana snacks, and taking leisurely strolls during schooling days.
I hope this story helps all of you who are looking for a horse for your child, and pass over the horse who is a few years older, and is less then perfect on the outside. Please considered the older horse who has "been there done that", they have so much to offer.
From all of us "Happy Birthday Piglet!!"
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