Ten Year Challenge

A little over a week ago I was given a chance to look through some old Tattersalls auction booklets from the years 2008 through 2010. It was during one of these sales that a certain bay two-year-old was listed to go through the auction. Luckily for me, that was the year that same big, bay colt made his way home to Hartselle, Alabama.

The earliest “real” picture I have of Nautica and me together is from the 2012 Northeast Georgia Foothills Charity Horse Show in Gainesville, GA. I had recently switched barns and had been riding Nautica for a little under a month at the time before I was offered the opportunity to ride him in the juvenile three-gaited pleasure class. I was asked aid in marketing him as a junior rider’s horse for the barn’s owner, Joyce Webster. This was our first show together, my first time stepping up out of “academy” classes, and Nautica’s debut as a junior exhibitor’s horse. We had a few first-show bobbles in the qualifier earning a 4th place, but by the championship class my nerves had calmed and Nautica rocked it earning us a reserve championship ride and second-place ribbon.

A six-year-old Nautica and seventeen-year-old Sheila at the 2012 Northeast Georgia Charity.
(I have no idea what was going on with my eyes here.)

It was one of my most memorable rides. Nautica was my ultimate “dream horse” and I was very fortunate to be able to purchase him that following December. In the years to follow, we ended up showing all over the southeastern United States.

Flash forward to 2019…

It’s crazy to think about such a “finished” show horse having to re-learn everything. I’m not new to the idea of dressage; I have an off-track thoroughbred restart project (Lacy) who I have been working with for the last three years, both on my own and with various trainers in dressage and jumping. But for some reason, Nautica has been totally different.

Similar to Lacy, Nautica is having to re-learn how to move and use his muscles in a way that’s unfamiliar to him. We’re having to undo years of an entirely different method of training and all of the physical differences that comes along with it. Unlike Lacy, I am having to overcome Nautica’s injury-related weaknesses and his “horsey attention deficit disorder.” Thoroughbred people just think their horses are spooky. My horse has been specially bred and taught to spook at everything!

Regardless of it all, each of my horses have their own amazing talents. Whereas Lacy shows great athleticism and bravery in jumping, Nautica exhibits tremendous intelligence and a willingness to please that is above and beyond the average horse’s. He does everything with 110% effort even if he doesn’t quite understand what I’m asking of him and puts up with repetitive and tedious work with his ears up and eyes bright. I’m very lucky to have one like him.

So, there’s our ten-year comparison. We are looking forward to the next ten!


We also found Nautica’s dam, “Reefing”‘s sale ad from an earlier Tattersalls booklet. I can see the resemblance. Nautica is the spitting image of her!

Reefing by Periaptor, out of Sail Away Jane (Merchant Prince)

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