A local woman and her horse continue to accumulate honors.
Robin Hale and her Gypsy horse, Glenfiddich, recently became Reserve Champions for the North American Championships of the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association in near Indianapolis.
They earned four reserve champions and Hale won the title of North American Champon Halter Handler.
Hale bought Glenfiddich in 2008 when he was 7 months old. His legal registered name is GSF Glenfiddich to include a nod to his birthplace, Golden Signature Farm in Hutto, Texas. Hale had seen a Gypsy at the Kentucky Horse Park, fell in love and began saving five years earlier.
“All I could afford was a baby, so he had to grow up — and he had to be trained and then I had to be trained,” Hale said.
She purchased the horse from Desi Meurer, who delivered him to her at the park during the second Gypsy and Drum Horse Show there.
“She convinced me to enter him in what is known as a Color Class,” Hale explained. “This class is really about how striking the color and pattern on the horse. I had never walked into a show ring, so they gave me a crash course. I paid the fee, walked into the class with 18 other horses and we won!” At the time, there were fewer than 1,500 Gypsies in the United States.
Hale showed Glenfiddich “in hand” at three shows during his first four year. He trained with others riding him until 2012, when Hale got in the saddle.
“That took 18 months of lessons for me and training for him as well,” she said. “I worked so hard — during the warm summer months I took as many as four lessons a week — before work, after work, whenever I could get out to the barn.”
Hale and Glenfiddich went to the largest show in the country for the breed — the Heartland Fall Classic, where the hose won High Point Gelding.
“Last year, the North American Championship — the highest level show in the Gypsy and Drum horse breeds — was held in conjunction with the Heartland Fall Classic, ... so I could get to them,” Hale said, noting preparation continued until it was time for the two shows that took place in five days, with the Heartland being a qualifier for the North American Championships.
Hale and Glen placed first in Ridden Obstacles, Western walk/jog, Amateur and Western walk/job open; second in Hand Obstacles; and thir in Color, which qualified them.
“It was awesome!” she said.
Hale had high praise for others from the area who competed.
“Aubrey won almost everything she entered,” Hale said, referring to Aubrey Carey of Ironton, her coach and trainer at Atkins Performance Horses. She and Kelsey Smith, 15, are also North American Champions with their Drum Mare, Angus.
“(Aubrey’s horse) is young and it was just incredible,” Hale said.
Carey said Hale’s win was a little surprising.
“I expected her to do well, but I didn’t expect her to do that well,” Carey said. “I knew the horse was well prepared, but I also knew everyone else there would be, too.”
She said there are many different categories horse and rider must be ready to perform in and she said she was pleased with Hale’s preparation.
“Robin handled herself really well. I was really proud of her,” Carey said. “She was working a lot of overtime and she put faith in me that I would have her horse ready and I put faith in her that she would be ready.”
Also attending with Hale was Madison Petry, who rode Glen and placed fourth in the North American Championships in youth western walk/trot.
Hale said she continues to work toward advancing Gypsy horses in the area.
“We are attempting to put together three or four farms that are going to work towards earning money so we can attend the North American Championships this year in New England,” she said. “We are getting ready to launch a Facebook page to chronicle our journey. Aubrey and I, along with Kate Reis from Morning View, want to defend our titles won at last year’s NAC.
“We are also attempting to get a farm from the Waverly area to join us,” she continued. “It is so expensive and we are hard-working women who will work our guts out to make the money to go. Sponsors would be great, hard work and winning is the sweetest taste of all.”
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.