Cobra the amazing mustang: From unadoptable to award nominee

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Cobra has excelled in dressage and western dressage with owner Marsha Hartford-Sapp.
Cobra has excelled in dressage and western dressage with owner Marsha Hartford-Sapp.

A once “unadoptable” mustang is among the nominees for a prestigious national award from the US Equestrian Federation.

Wild-born Cobra, now aged 14, has been nominated for the USEF’s Horses of Honor in the National category. Horses in both national and international categories are nominated through their achievements over the course of the season.

Born in the mountains of Nevada, Cobra was rounded up in 2010 at the age of six. After the Bureau of Land Management deemed the 2004 mustang unadoptable, a strange twist of fate paired him with his trainer and owner, Marsha Hartford-Sapp, and he became a dressage and western dressage champion.

Devoted to her vision for Cobra, Hartford-Sapp proceeded training with caution and respect for the gelding’s instincts. Soon mutual trust and admiration created a bond to carry both through the rigors of competition, and Cobra rose to the occasion, showing the nation what heart a little mustang can have.

His versatility for both classical and Western dressage is apparent, as he has won national honors for both disciplines. In 2018, Cobra and Hartford-Sapp were third in the Western Dressage Association of America’s (WDAA) Western Dressage World Championship Level 4 Test 1 Open, won the Level 4 Test 3 Open, were reserve champions in the Level 3 Test 3 Open, and were reserve champions in the Western Dressage Musical Freestyle. Cobra was also the 2018 United States Dressage Federation All-Breeds American Mustang & Burro Association Prix St. Georges National Champion.

In 2018, US Equestrian named Cobra the Western Dressage Level 4 Horse of the Year. In 2017, he earned the Western Dressage Level 3 and Level 4 Horse of the Year and Western Dressage Level 2 Reserve Champion Horse of the Year.

Recognizing his rise from the wild to becoming the 2015 Level 1 Freestyle Western Dressage World Champion, Breyer made him a model horse. Numerous event organizers have invited Cobra for special appearances to promote his inspirational story.

As one of the founding horses of USEF Western dressage competition, Cobra was one of the first recipients of the 2015 Horse of the Year awards in that discipline and has continued to collect numerous accolades ever since.

Winners are determined based on the results of online voting, which is open until January 3.

The 2018 National and International Horse of the Year will be awarded at the Horse of the Year Awards during the US Equestrian Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 12.

Other nominees:

International

Eddie Blue (Zirocco Blue VDL x Silvana/Marlon) 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding. Owner: LL Show Jumpers, LLC.

Eddie Blue’s talent was evident as soon as he entered the show ring. His stellar scope and powerful height over fences make him a “must-watch” horse on the jumping circuit. The nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, recorded a triumphant 2018 with his rider and trainer Devin Ryan, starting with a second-place finish in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* at HITS Ocala in February. They qualified for the World Cup Jumping Final in April, where they placed second overall, a major accomplishment for their first season of indoor events. The combination returned from Paris to place third in the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*in May. 

As the runner-up at the 2018 FEI World Cup Jumping Final, Eddie Blue and Ryan automatically landed a spot on the short list for the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 NetJets U.S. Jumping Team. During the WEG team observation period, Eddie Blue and Ryan were part of the bronze medal-winning U.S. team in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Poland at CSIO Sopot in June. As part of the U.S. team at CHIO Aachen, they jumped an impressive double-clear in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup. With only two years of FEI-level competition under his saddle, Eddie Blue found himself on his first FEI WEG NetJets U.S. Jumping Team, where he helped them win their first team gold medal since the 1986 World Championships. They ended a remarkable year by placing second in the $205,000 Jumping World Cup Toronto 2018 for the Hickstead Trophy.

Ms Dreamy (Magnum Chic Dream x A Gal With A Gun/Colonels Smoking Gun) 2010 Quarter Horse mare. Owner: Frederick Christen.

Ms Dreamy has collected a multitude of remarkable accomplishments with four different riders over her five-year career. However, nothing can compare to the results this nine-year-old Quarter Horse mare and her current rider, Dan Huss, achieved in 2018. During the Carolina Classic Derby and FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 Reining Test Event held in May, Huss rode Ms Dreamy to the high score of 224. In the second phase of the competition, they scored a 226 for a 450 composite tie and moved past the tie to win the event. During the WEG, Ms Dreamy and Huss helped the U.S. Reining Team earn their fifth consecutive team gold medal while placing second individually in the team competition. They finished the WEG with the individual silver medal, making Ms Dreamy the first mare to individually medal for the U.S. Out of a field of 61 combinations in the WEG reining team competition, she was one of only 12 mares and one of only four mares in the individual competition.

Ms Dreamy has earned over $168,000 in her career and has other notable accolades to her name, including the 2013 National Reining Horse Association Futurity Level 2 Non-Pro Reserve Championship; the 2014 American Quarter Horse Association Amateur Reining World Championship; the 2015 High Roller Reining Classic Derby Level 3 Open Reserve Championship; and the 2016 National Reining Breeders Classic Level 3 Non-Pro Championship.

Verdades (Florett AS x Liwilarda/Goya) 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding. Owners: Laura Graves and Curt Maes.

In 2018, Verdades, affectionately known as Diddy, again proved why he is one of the best horses to grace the international dressage ring. Following a standout 2017, when he and his lifelong rider and trainer Laura Graves placed second in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle at the World Cup Dressage Final, US Equestrian named the 16-year-old gelding and Graves to their second consecutive FEI World Equestrian Games™ The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team in 2018. With the home crowd in his periphery, Verdades led Graves to an individual silver medal, the first silver medal awarded to a U.S. dressage combination at a global championship. In addition, they were the anchor combination for the silver medal-winning The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team. 

During the 2018 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season, he helped the US team earn a silver medal in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup Germany part of CHIO Aachen. Individually, Verdades garnered eight first-place finishes in 2018, which included the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup Dressage Final and the Grand Prix CDIO5* at CHIO Aachen. Their 2018 success allowed them to reach the world number one position on the FEI World Individual Dressage Ranking List in October, a status they held for nine straight weeks, marking the first time that a U.S. dressage combination has been ranked world number one. 

Verdades began his journey to international success in 2014 after garnering attention from his reserve-champion finish at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp. Since his launch into the spotlight, Verdades’s achievements and continued success are profound. He has earned 34 first-place finishes and over 20 second-place finishes in team and individual CDI competitions around the world since the inception of his international career.

National

Karsten, 2011 Friesian stallion. Owner: Kirk Allgaier

When Kirk and Sally Allgaier spotted this flashy, charismatic black Friesian stallion in Holland, they had a hunch his mind and talent under saddle and in the harness would lead to amazing things. With the help of his trainer Gareth Selwood of Lorick Stables, Karsten has been racking up wins across a variety of divisions over the years, and 2018 was no different. He placed first in 34 classes, 22 of those wins with owner Kirk Allgaier at the reins. 

The seven-year-old started his extraordinary season in May at the New York State Horse Breeders and International Friesian Show Horse Association Region 2 Championships, winning six regional titles. He moved on to the Region 5 Championships at the Buckeye Baroque Summer Jubilee in June, garnering six Region 5 wins. At the Midwest Baroque Horse IFSHA Region 6 Championships, he won six championship titles and six reserve titles, followed by five championship titles at the New England Friesians IFSHA Region 1 Championships. 

His magnificent season ended when he left the IFSHA World and Grand National Championships with the World Champion Friesian Baroque Senior Stallion and Amateur World Champion Friesian Pleasure Walk Trot Masters titles. He also took home eight IFSHA reserve national titles. His achievements resulted in him being named the United States Equestrian Federation National Champion Horse of the Year Friesian Specialty, and USEF Region 2, 5, and 6 HOTY Champion Friesian Specialty. 

Private Practice (Lordanos x Goldmarie/Goldfever I) 2010 Holsteiner gelding. Owner: Dr. Brad Wolf

Having only begun his hunter career in 2018, Private Practice has already amassed a record that most competitors dream of achieving. The eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding, fondly known as Peter, started his hunter career simply by chance at the Winter Equestrian Festival in February. After one weekend showing in the junior hunter division, Tom Wright purchased him for client and successful amateur rider Dr. Brad Wolf. 

Although he originally purchased Private Practice as an amateur owner hunter, Wolf made the decision to have Victoria Colvin show the gelding in the Green Hunter 3’9” section in hopes that she would put the finishing touches on him in the hunter ring. In their first week of showing, the combination quickly lit the Florida Circuit on fire, qualifying for the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. The pair entered the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Deeridge in March and surprised all by winning the Welcome class, as well as both phases of the Derby, with Private Practice’s bravery and brilliance.

After the win at Deeridge, Wolf and Wright decided to look towards the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in August as a potential goal. Between Private Practice’s purchase in February and the Derby Championship, he competed sparingly but managed to amass a significant record. His many tricolors and wins during this time include championships in the Green Hunter 3’9” section at the Aiken Charity Horse Show I and Devon Horse Show, a reserve championship at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, and a Derby win at the Aiken Charity Horse Show II. Private Practice and Colvin rounded out the summer with the overall win at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Additionally, the pair had a successful fall, earning the Green Hunter 3’9” championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and reserve championships at the Capital Challenge Horse Show and the National Horse Show.  

 

One thought on “Cobra the amazing mustang: From unadoptable to award nominee

  • January 19, 2019 at 5:33 am
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    And the Federal Government is selling these wonderful animals for a dollar each and they are being shipped to Mexico for slaughter by the hundreds, and more likely by the thousands. Both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are participating.

    Reply

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