A dramatically spotted crossbred sport horse is making a splash on the Florida show scene, bringing a blaze of color to the traditionally conservative hunter ring.
Laura Swanstrom Reece’s 16.3hh seven-year-old Friesian-Appaloosa cross Danash’s Northern Tempest (Danash K x Chief’s Bold Angel), is one of the few competitive cross-bred hunter jumpers on Wellington’s horse show scene. But despite standing out in the hunter crowd and pulling her fair share of ribbons, the speckled mare’s true charm is found in a willing, sweet personality that is as beautiful and engaging as her unique coat.
Dani, as she’s known around the barn, spent the 2019-2020 Holiday Series and WEF 2020 showing in the rusty stirrup hunter division with Reece, and the green hunters with trainer Ashley Glica of ATG Equestrian. Her eager to please attitude and intelligence has made her a quick study in most endeavors, from finding the perfect rhythm over a hunter course and dancing around the dressage arena, to trail and pony rides and even swimming in the farm’s lake.
“She is an incredible animal and really smart,” said Reece. “She’s so willing and so trainable, and that is what makes riding her a pleasure. She’s a unique combination of her dam’s conformation and her sire’s size and movement, and while her coat color makes her particularly unique, she has the athletic edge to allow us to pursue realistic show goals, even on the highly competitive Wellington circuit.”
Dani’s unique coat color, inherited from her Appaloosa dam, may appear to be a white base coat with brown/black spots, but the dark patches are actually a genetic absence of white, revealing brown underneath. All Appaloosa patterns are a variation of white, with different allele combinations resulting in more or less white showing on the horse. Dani’s leopard coloring, which resembles its namesake big cat, displays mottled brown and white over her face, chest, and lower neck, with the iconic black patches becoming clear and distinguished over her withers, barrel, and haunches, before darkening to a mostly black tail and completely black stockings on her legs.
With such avant-garde style and standout coat color, Dani’s alluring look has attracted the attention of some of the world’s top equestrian brands, taking her to photoshoots, shows and scheduled appearances. She’s also been amassing a growing number of Instagram followers on @DanitheWonderHorse. as more fans enjoy her journey.