Louise Koch traveled 36 hours from her home in West Lake Village, California to take the win in Five-Year-Old Horse competition on the opening day of the USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships being held at Lamplight Equestrian Center. Her friend Penny Barreras traveled even further.
“Penny drove 12 hours from Oregon to join me on a 36-hour drive across country. That’s a friend,” Koch said. Koch won Friday’s Five-Year-Old Preliminary class with a score of 83.8 on San Shivago, a Westphalian and Oldenburg approved stallion by Sandro Hit she has owned since January 2007. “I bought him in Germany and then left him there for the stallion testing and then after that, I brought him home.
This is Koch’s first year competing in the nationals. She didn’t compete San Shivago much as a four-year-old because her parents died that year and she put her show career a bit on hold. Hence, when she qualified for the nationals and was facing a long trip, Barreras not only offered to go along for the ride but even to bring the rig and act as groom. Barreras operates a CEM quarantine facility in Oregon and is experienced in handling stallions. She also has a trailer with living quarters attached. “She calls it her condo,” Koch joked. “It’s a good trailer and we weren’t quite sure how San Shivago would trailer across country being a young stallion so we decided to do it ourselves to make sure he had a good experience. It was nice to have a friend along who knows horses and has stallion experience. She’s a super, super person.”
The trip was, Koch said, rather interesting. “Well, some of the venues weren’t quite up to snuff. The first night, he was near literally next to a herd of mares so we didn’t get much sleep. Our second venue wasn’t quite what we had hoped, so continued on and found a fabulous place. And the third place was wonderful, because we stayed with the Barteaus for a couple of days. They were so wonderful and so hospitable.”
Judges really liked San Shivago’s trot, giving him a score of 8.8 for that gait. They described his canter as “buoyant, uphill and expressive.” Overall, they felt the stallion has great potential. “He just needs a bit more self-confident,” Koch said. “He gave me a fabulous medium trot in the honor round. I sure hope I can get that in the next days.”
Despite her blue-ribbon finish on the opening day, Koch isn’t being over confident that San Shivago will be the champion. “I am excited that he won today, but everyone here is doing a good job. I’m thrilled to come here from California and win the first leg but good people and horses are on my coattails. I’ll have to step it up tomorrow.” Meanwhile, Koch intends to enjoy her time at Lamplight saying that the comradeship that exists among competitors. “I love this young horse program that Markel sponsors. And it’s wonderful to see all the competitors encouraging one another.”
Koch, who trains with Christine Traurig and is also an ‘S’ judge, clearly has high hopes for San Shivago and believes he’ll one day be a very good grand prix horse. “He’s a good athlete, but he’s also so sweet and has such a wonderful personality that in future, I’ll probably want to breed him. His trot is wonderful. His canter work is easy for him. He’s getting stronger all the time and learning to be more and more balanced. He’s just fabulous.”
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