A spotted horse with unlikely breeding is making his mark on dressage in the great plains area of the US, proving that horses other than warmbloods can produce the goods to win at FEI level.
Lakota Lace, an 11-year-old gelding of appaloosa, percheron, and quarter horse bloodlines, picked up back-to-back wins in the Intermediaire I at the Dressage in the Rockies competition Colorado Horse Park in the past few days.
In his first time out at that level, Lakota Lace scored 68.816 percent on Friday, winning the FEI High Percentage Championship, and 67.895 percent on Saturday. Trainer Shannon Dahmer competed him for his owner, Janet Wingate of Denver, Colorado.
Everything about Lakota Lace is improbable: his breeding is unusual for a standout FEI level competitor, he has rocketed up the ranks at a surprisingly rapid pace, and his birth wasn’t even intentional. His sire got loose and impregnated his dam, who then was sold to a new owner who didn’t know the mare was carrying a foal. But the result of that mishap was better than anything that could have been planned by his connections, who are grateful to have stumbled upon this one-of-a-kind dressage horse.
Lakota Lace came along at the right time for Wingate, who saw an ad for him while searching for an Appaloosa to follow in the footsteps of one she’d owned and loved. He was three years old at the time.
“I am partial to Appaloosas because I had a really nice one,” Wingate explained. “So I was trying to replace him, and I never thought I could, because he was really special. But I did! He was an accident, and look what happened.”
Just under two years ago, Wingate put Lakota Lace in training with Dahmer, who is based out of Stellar Stables in Parker, Colorado. Since then, he has blossomed into a strong competitor at the small tour level, and Dahmer has her eyes on an eventual move up to Grand Prix.
Lakota Lace has proven to be a quick study. Only a year ago, he was competing at first level with Wingate and hadn’t started flying changes yet. Last September, while Wingate was out of town, Dahmer decided to play around with introducing changes.
“I went on vacation, and Shannon called me and said, ‘We’re doing four-tempis!’” Wingate recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t believe it!’”
Wingate returned to see that Lakota Lace had mastered his four-tempis, and now he has added the rest of the small tour movements to his rapidly expanding repertoire.
“He’s a really quick learner – and he thinks very highly of himself,” Dahmer laughed. “He is really good at collection, which comes easily for him. He loves to work and always comes out ready to go. And he’s super comfortable and easy to ride.”
Lakota Lace’s intelligence and levelheadedness have helped him excel in the dressage arena, and they have also made him a suitable mount for his owner, who appreciates his great temperament.
“He has a good mind,” Wingate said. “You can go a long way with a good mind. I’m really lucky to have found him, and Shannon has done a spectacular job with him.”
After successful outings at Prix St. Georges earlier this year in California and at the Colorado Horse Park’s High Prairie Dressage I and II, Dahmer chose to give Intermediaire I a try at Dressage in the Rockies, which is managed by Glenda McElroy of Cornerstone Event Management. The decision paid off, as the pair earned qualifying scores at that level for the Great American/USDF Region 5 Dressage Championships in September.
They will return to the Colorado Horse Park for the Championships, having qualified for both Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I. Dahmer said she always enjoys showing at the Horse Park.
“We really, really like the footing,” Dahmer said. “The stalls are nice, not like the small temporary stalls you get at some places, and they have turnouts. They just keep improving it. I think it’s the best facility to show at, and it keeps getting better and better.”
If their results at Dressage in the Rockies are any indication, Dahmer and her unconventional partner will be ready to contend for a regional title.