2006 USEF/Markel National Young Dressage Horse Championships

Cobra's Comeback - Pamela Doolittle and Cobra Overcome Obstacles to Finish Third in Six-Year-Old Division

Third place, behind the two leaders in the 6-year old division at the 2006 USEF/Markel National Young Dressage Horse Championships, went to Pamela Doolittle of Masomanie, WI riding her own Cobra (Contucci – Work of Art by Wallstreet Kid). It was, quite literally, a rough road that Doolittle and Cobra traveled en route to the championships, but her story has a happy ending.

“My husband and I decided several years ago to save our money to buy a horse farm,” she explains. “I sold my horse and pursued a PhD in chemistry; now I’m a professor and we have a 60-acre farm. It was our ‘American Dream’. Coby was the best horse that I could afford, and I bought him when he was only two; when he was three I took him to another stable to get him started while we built an indoor arena.”

She continued, “The day I brought him home, I put him in my brand new trailer and headed home. It should have been the perfect trailer for a horse his size according to the manufacturer’s book, but on the way home my husband, who was driving behind me in a minivan with the kids, called my cell phone and told me to stop.”

The trailer door had come off the trailer and since there were no butt-bars installed, Coby had fallen out the back and been dragged about 20 feet along the road until his leather halter broke free. “If I hadn’t bandaged his legs with quilts and flannels he would have been killed,” she said. “The bandages were shredded. His extensor tendon in his hind leg had been serrated and his carpal bones were completely exposed. I thought that we’d lose him to infection.”

Cobra's Comeback - Pamela Doolittle and Cobra Overcome Obstacles to Finish Third in Six-Year-Old Division

With diligent care and eight months of stall rest, Doolittle nursed her horse back to soundness. She started riding him again in December of 2004, but said that he still has not completely regained his strength. From an already tight budget she had to pay for $10,000 in vet bills and $3,000 to fix the trailer. As she points out, if she had been driving faster than 20mph at the time of the accident, or if her husband had been following closer, she might have lost not only her horse but her entire family.

She and Cobra are making up for lost time, taking their training step by step with the guidance of coach Alex Gerding. “He has really kept me on track,” she said. “When I first put Coby back to work I had to see what I had left, and obviously it’s a lot. Coby is great to work with – he has a great work ethic and he’s so rideable. There is a whole team of people behind his comeback.”

Also an American bred, next stop for Doolittle and Cobra is Dressage at Devon. "And those guys," referring to David Whiteman and Brigadier and David Blake and Catapult the two six year olds from California who tied for first place, "won't be there!"

HorsesDaily "On the Scene" at the 2006 USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage National Championship