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Dream Come True
Monday, April 16, 2012 - by Elizabeth Tewksbury

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Each issue Hoof Beats asks its readers to share personal stories of their favorite horses and horsemen in the “Winner’s Circle.” This month, Elizabeth Tewksbury writes about Dreamy Starlet. To make a submission to “Winner’s Circle,” send it via e-mail to tj.burkett@ustrotting.com, fax 614.222.6791, or write to Winner’s Circle, c/o Hoof Beats, 750 Michigan Ave., Columbus, OH 43215.


My journey of owning a Standardbred began in May 2003. I was given Dreamy Starlet as a free lease, and then her owner gave her to me as a surprise Christmas gift in 2006. It had always been my dream to be given a horse for Christmas, never mind that I was already well into my 20s.


What horse-crazy little girl has not had that dream?  And what a coincidence this horse is aptly named “Dreamy.”


Dreamy was foaled in 1991, an On The Road Again mare with a small star and a big heart. She had a mediocre career on the track, racing briefly as a 2- and 3-year-old in New York. She was then a broodmare to four registered foals who all raced.


Dreamy came into my life after her breeding career was over. In the beginning, she was a pasture pet, keeping company with my Morgan mare. When my Morgan was retired, I decided to see what I could do with Dreamy. I was the first person to ever sit on her back. She was already 15 years old at that point, but I did not let her age stop me.


My husband teased me and said a Standardbred couldn’t become a show horse. I figured I might as well prove him wrong. 


Photo by Jeff Anderson of Eighth Generation Photography
Since 2007, Dreamy Starlet and Elizabeth Tewksbury have won more than 200 ribbons competing in horse shows.

I worked hard with Dreamy, finding just the right bit for her, working on lateral flexion, and teaching her how to carry her body in a different way than she was bred to do. I discovered she has a great range of motion and her gaits are long and fluid, typical of a Standardbred. She is a pacer, but always trots in the pasture and always under saddle.  Her trot is adjustable and she easily learned how to lengthen her trot. She cantered under saddle as soon as she understood I actually wanted her to do so. Even years later, she still remembered her early race training to not break gait.


I was able to prove my husband wrong within a year, when Dreamy and I began competing in horse shows in 2007. Since then, we have won more than 200 ribbons, 83 year-end awards, and eight national championships together in numerous disciplines: dressage up to First Level, combined training up to Beginner Novice, hunter under saddle and over fences, equitation, western pleasure, trail, and in hand.


Dreamy has been shown all over New England and New Jersey, at U.S. Equestrian Federation-rated shows as well as little schooling shows. Some of her most noteworthy awards include Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization National High Point Horse, Maine Dressage Society Standardbred of the Year, SPHO National Training Level Champion, and U.S. Dressage Federation All Breed Open National and Adult Amateur Champion.


Dreamy and I were lucky enough to participate in the Standardbred breed demonstrations at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky., in 2010. Also, we have marshaled races at local racetracks here in Maine. Every time I bring Dreamy back to the track, she makes a good impression. Onlookers always admire her and are eager to pet her, ask me about her, and always remark that she is a stunning saddle horse.


To me, promoting this breed starts at the track and at horse shows. Seeing Dreamy succeed as a riding horse helps trainers and owners as well as the general public understand that there is life after racing. In order to help Standardbreds gain a strong reputation as a desirable breed, I also compete with Dreamy in open shows. I want to prove to other competitors that under saddle excellence is possible with a Standardbred.


Whether we win or lose, I always try to make a good impression with Dreamy. Those who meet her, including horse show judges, are always amazed she is a Standardbred and usually guess every other breed first, so then they take away a greater appreciation of what a Standardbred can accomplish. Dreamy has proven that she is a worthy competitor against all other breeds of horses; in fact she is usually the only Standardbred at the shows we attend! I am proud to say Dreamy has repeatedly shown her versatility and ability to many.


Overall, Dreamy is a sweet mare who has a very strong need to please. When we tackle a new challenge, her work ethic and desire to get things correct amazes me. My plans for this coming year include trying team penning (we’ll see if Dreamy likes cows!) and going foxhunting. She even has her own blog: http://standardbredexcellence.blogspot.com/.


Dreamy is a shining example and ambassador for her breed. I am so proud of my racehorse, turned broodmare, turned show horse!  Dreamy is truly the “little horse that could,” and is a horse who has left hoofprints on my heart. 

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The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.