Saugerties, New York – In honor of the equine partner who helped him earn a place in the Dressage Century Club, Ted Plaut created the Vista Vintage Award for older horses competing in USDF Region 8. Some might have thought the fix was in when the new award, presented during the busy Saturday evening dinner at the 2010 Centerline Events CDI-W/Y/J/P, went to the show’s manager – Debra Reinhardt.
It was no fix. Reinhardt rightly earned the award with the help of Havrelands Armstrong (Satch), a 22-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. The award is open to anyone competing a horse age 18 or older in Region 8. It requires a minimum of two scores at two different shows and from two different recognized judges. Reinhardt and Satch’s best score in the race for the award was a 65.897. It was earned in Third Level competition, which meant that not only did Satch help Reinhardt become the first recipient of the Vista Vintage Award, but he also helped her earn her USDF Bronze Medal.
Reinhardt had been half-leasing Satch for some time. She bought him after his owner moved to New Hampshire and decided to sell him. “He hadn’t been shown for about five years,” said Reinhardt, who trains with Vicki Hammers-O’Neil. “After a winter of work, he was getting stronger and stronger and Vicki said, ‘Let’s try Third Level with him.’ So, I did and we did okay.”
Reinhardt, manager of Centerline Events, had no idea that she would be the first winner of the award after being asked to let the Centerline CDI be the launching pad for the new award. “I was asked if the award could be presented during this show to give it some attention. This show just seemed like the perfect fit because it would go well with Mitchell Farm Retirement, which has been giving out awards for older horses at the show,” she said. “I never thought that it would be me the first year. I was very excited.”
Adding to the honor for Reinhardt was that Plaut himself was on hand to present the award. The 86-year-old Connecticut rider knows the value of older horses. The award he created is named after his 24-year-old friend, Vista Geewhiz, a Morgan/Trakehner bred by his family and with whom Plaut competed at First Level. Plaut and Vista no longer compete but still ride together. “He and I still get together because I can trust him and he trusts me and at my age, that makes all the difference in the world,” Plaut said.
Plaut said the goal of his award is not only to honor older equine partners but also to encourage riders to take their older friends out to shows. “The nice thing about showing is that it gives you a goal and by having a goal it introduces discipline. And discipline, to me, is important if you want to ride a horse.”
For their part, Reinhardt and Satch aren’t yet done with their show careers. On their horizon are plans to develop a freestyle and perhaps next year move up to Fourth Level. “I have to fit my competing in between managing shows,” Reinhardt said. “But it’s nice that my show clients now know that I can get out and do this too.” Yes, she can.