It all started one day when a hard-headed “horse girl” decided she wanted a foal from one of her best mares, a Missouri Foxtrotter named Dolly.
Kirsten Klindworth-Dahlke, who grew up with a love for horses and trail riding, has spent the past 14 years in a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury. Dolly, who lies down so that Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke can safely mount her from the wheelchair, made it possible for her owner to continue trail riding.
“I wanted a special stallion to breed to Dolly and began the search online. One of the first nice horses I came across was Shaker’s Jamaican Pride – affectionately called Leo by his owner Staci Henson from Missouri. She sent me a few video clips of this handsome black and white stud colt and told me how gentle he was, and I was SOLD,” said Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke. “After shipping him to Liberty Hill, we soon found out how right Staci was. Even the shipper commented when he dropped him off that this was the gentlest stallion he had ever shipped.”
Within a short time, Dr. Alexandra Cooper, who was moonlighting as a trainer/rider for Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke, began to jump Leo and some of the other horses.
“We started them on low jumps and they took to it so easily that we could go higher and higher much faster than with other breeds,” she said. “We still find that today. We have to go higher to keep it interesting for them.”
When Leo and J.A.K.S. jumped over four feet, Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke said she knew they were on to something special and began to compete at the USEF and Open Jumping shows wherever Dr. Cooper lived at the time, including Pennsylvania and Ohio. Leo won in almost every class. In fact, in six months of open and USEF Jumping shows (Class AA, A, B and Schooling), he won 20 1st places, 8 division championships, 10 2nd places, 22 Top 5’s and countless Top 10’s.
After winning the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association (MTHBA) 2009 World Jumping Championship, 2010 Spotted Saddle Horse Breeds & Exhibitors Association (SSHBEA) World High Jumping and Youth Jumping Championships (and the SSHBEA Sport Horse High Overall High Point World Grand Champion Stallion) as well as the 2011 Pinto Horse Breeders Association (PtHA) Amateur World Jumping Championship and 2011 Pinto Reserve World Champion Open Flag Race, he may be the first horse of any breed in history to win three different breed world championships.
Leo, a six-year-old stallion, is also very affectionate and “a babysitter,” Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke said. “He will adjust his level to the rider’s ability – for this reason we use him for kids lessons over any other horse at the farm. If a child is off-balance he will not take the jump, but will stop and stand quietly. People at the shows sometimes wander into his stall to hug him and we don’t worry about it – he is as gentle with them as any gelding.”
Today, from her Great Trail Horse farm in Liberty Hill, Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke breeds what she describes as “the perfect horse.” Efforless to ride, she says they take care of their riders and are especially good for children.
“Folks ask why these gaited horses are so naturally good at jumping and we are still trying to figure that out,” she said. “I believe it starts with the wonderful foxtrotter mind and their willingness, athleticism and stamina – but it also has something to do with their ability to perform multiple gaits and shorten or lengthen their strides easily and quickly to hit a good spot for the jump. Where you might think their multiple gaits would make turns and positioning more challenging, they actually give them a huge advantage in the jumping ring.”
Dr. Cooper, who has shown in the hunter/jumper circuit for most of her life, said Fox Trotters are faster and more controllable than most other jumpers.
“When I am competing over fences, I need a horse that is willing to explode like a rocket, spin on a dime and stop from a gallop immediately. I look for responsiveness, desire and a horse that trusts me enough to take the big spot; fit through two jumps, even when the hole is really tight; or jump the jump that looks like a monster,” she said. “These horses enjoy pleasing me, enjoy showing and want to win. They will give it their all – they have the traits that make the difference between good and great.”
Leo and Dr. Cooper’s hard work and success in 2010 earned him the 2010 MFTHBA FTAC High Point Horse of the Year award, 2010 Pinto (PtHA) Register of Merit in Jumping, 2011 Pinto Register of Merit for the Flag Race, 2010 Pinto OCAP Jumping, Hunter Over Fences and Team Penning Horse of the Year, and the Spotted Saddle Horse (SSHBEA) 2010 OIP Stadium Jumping High Point Horse.
Leo has also won more USEF competitions in Jumping and Hunter Over Fences than any other Missouri Fox Trotter (MFTHBA) or Spotted Saddle Horse (SSHBEA) in history.
“We are currently standing both Leo and his Sire, Pride, here in Liberty Hill. We bought Pride at 11 years old, trained him for six months and he won his first World Championship at the SSHBEA Word Show in 2010,” said Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke.
Any baby sired by either stallion is registrable as a Pinto horse even from an unregistered mare, she said.
“I believe that the future of jumping and versatility is in the hands of this amazing breed and hope that we see many more fox trotters at the jumping shows soon,” Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke said. “These horses can win you a World Championship one day and take your novice friends on a quiet trail ride the next.”
This month, Great Trail Horse Farm is offering reduced breeding fees of $500 to either stallion.
“If you are seeking a colored foal I will provide unlimited breed backs until you get one. Pride produces color 90 percent of the time with an occasional solid black. Leo produces color approximately 60 percent of the time,” she said.
Leo is triple-registered as a MFTHBA, SSHBEA & Pinto (PtHA), Pride is quadruple-registered TWHBEA, MFTHBA, SSHBEA and Pinto. They are both also USEF registered.
“Our farrier, Joe Salaman, recently commented that Pride has the best feet he has seen in his entire career. Both stallions’ feet are so perfect that we only have to trim them twice a year; they pass this to their foals every time,” she said.
Mrs. Klindworth-Dahlke invited individuals “looking for a smooth, versatile, gentle, pretty, athletic horse” to come out and ride one and see their foals.
For more information and to see videos, visit www.txmft.com.