Kerry John­son-Mil­jan and Mul­berry Street (“Fancy”) won the In­tro­duc­tory Level C test at the 2015 Na­tional Dres­sage Pony Cup with a score of 69 per­cent.

Dressage Today - - Transitions -

Ifeel com­pelled and amazed to re­flect on an ex­tra­or­di­nary lit­tle Amer­i­can quar­ter Horse and for­mer reiner’s jour­ney. Ein­steins Du­nit Fancy or “Fancy” was in a friend of a friend’s pas­ture, where she had spent the first years of her life with her brother. When I met her, she was a 5-year-old, who was orig­i­nally trained as a reiner and then had been used for very light trail rid­ing for the last two years. We had first gone to the farm she was at to check out her brother, but then we no­ticed, Hey, that lit­tle girl moves out! My friend Kerry John­son-Mil­jan was look­ing for a large pony at the time and we won­dered how tall Fancy was. The spunky lit­tle mare trot­ted out to greet us. She was 14.1! So we loaded her up and brought the coun­try quar­ter Horse reiner home to a big dres­sage barn. We won­dered if she could step up and be that large pony we needed. If not, she was al­ready the best lit­tle trail horse we had ever seen and even just that would have been OK, too.

Kerry and An­drea Schten, our trainer and Fancy’s par­towner, be­gan work by tak­ing off the cou­ple hun­dred pounds Fancy had ac­cu­mu­lated in her two-year hia­tus from work. Ev­ery day was a new ad­ven­ture. Kerry would dis­cover won­der­ful things about Fancy that made her smile. As I sat and watched each day while my friend con­nected with this ter­rific lit­tle mare, I remember think­ing, Huh. These two are go­ing to go far to­gether! As Kerry and Fancy worked their way through the hon­ey­moon pe­riod, the weight came off, the mus­cles de­vel­oped and they learned new things about each other with ev­ery ride. When April 2015 ar­rived, An­drea sug­gested that we take Fancy to a show to see what she could do. At her very first show, Fancy never fal­tered. In­tro­duc­tory Level didn’t seem to be a prob­lem, and she was un­phased by the rain, mud and the chaos of the show­grounds. As the weeks went on, Train­ing Level seemed to of­fer a much bet­ter chal­lenge for Fancy and Kerry. Fancy’s work sched­ule of a few days of dres­sage per week was in­ter­spersed with a cou­ple of trail rides to keep every­one’s head clear. When it came time for Fancy to com­pete at Tran­ing Level, she was fan­tas­tic. Kerry and Fancy were all smiles and the de­ci­sion was made for the crew to head to the 2015 Na­tional Dres­sage Pony Cup.

On a warm Septem­ber 2 at 4 a.m., Kerry loaded up Fancy, whose show name had been changed to Mul­berry Street, and headed for the Na­tional Dres­sage Pony Cup in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky. Our team was solid and in­cluded Kerry, trainer An­drea, the ever-ready show mom Denise John­son and Julie Bo­erst, the sec­ond show mom. Fancy seemed to take ev­ery­thing in stride like the good-minded quar­ter Horse she is. Kerry, on the other hand, was suf­fer­ing show nerves as the ul­ti­mate Type-A per­son­al­ity.

By Satur­day af­ter­noon the 100-de­gree heat and blis­tered feet had taken their toll on Kerry and the lit­tle team. In the qual­i­fy­ing classes the judges were tough, and Kerry and Fancy stood in the last qual­i­fy­ing spot go­ing into the cham­pi­onships. Spir­its were low. Kerry called me, anx­ious and up­set, telling me about Fancy. “She was happy and lis­tened to me. In my mind, she was great!” Kerry said. Then she paused and said, “I let her down as a rider! I wish I would have done bet­ter.” After a few more tears and deep breaths, she ex­claimed, “But I’m not giv­ing up!” Fancy was happy and ready to go the next morn­ing. Kerry told me, “We are go­ing for it. What have we got to lose?” They came out with a win in In­tro­duc­tory Level C, scor­ing 69 per­cent. Our for­mer Ein­steins Du­nit Fancy, now Mul­berry Street, was de­clared Na­tional Dres­sage Pony Cup Breed Award Cham­pion! Through cir­cum­stances be­yond her con­trol, Fancy ar­rived in a dres­sage barn, where she stepped up to the chal­lenge with ease, ex­tend­ing her trot and col­lect­ing her lope into a can­ter and win­ning a big com­pe­ti­tion after one sum­mer of work with very car­ing hands on the other end of the reins. What else can Fancy and Kerry ac­com­plish? Al­most any­thing, I think.

Au­gust 2016

69

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