The Chronicle of the Horse - June 6, 2008 Issue
|Durham Does It At Westbrook|
|by Sarah Wynne Jackson|
|Her unwavering dedication helped an insecure horse come into his own.|
A 12-year partnership
is finally paying off for Tracy Durham, who earned a 69.00 percent and first place in the FEI freestyle class at Centerline
Events at Westbrook Hunt Club dressage show, May 17-18 in Westbrook, Conn.
She’s owned her 17-year-old, bay
Trakehner, Emperor (Unkenruf—Estelle), since he was a “newly approved 5-year-old stallion,” Durham said.
His entire dressage career has been with Durham, but the road to Grand Prix has been long and bumpy.
a reactive creature of flight and far too intelligent for his own good,” Durham explained. “He can do all of the
Grand Prix very beautifully at home. But he gets anxious with the changes in his schedule and the new venues that showing
requires. We’ve spent years creating patterned behavior, so even when he’s away from home the pattern is always
Durham often trailered Emperor off the farm to school, hack or simply hand-graze to increase his exposure to new places.
Durham, Vestal, N.Y., rode under judge Kem Barbosa, who also judged the pair 12 years ago in a training level test.
Barbosa had mentioned then that Durham was “putting a very good foundation on this horse.” This time, she commented
that the foundation work was well done, and the test was very balanced.
“To ride the Grand Prix in front
of her, and for her to say that, it’s like coming full circle,” said Durham. “Emperor has come so far. He
seems to be coming into his own. He actually had fun at this show—his ears were up, and he was ready to go. It was a
She has been riding with Carol Lavell for almost 30 years and is good friends with fellow student
Ann Guptill. “She has been a tremendous asset to me,” Durham said. “Ann also put together the music for
my freestyle, and I did the choreography.”
Durham is also bringing along a 6-year-old Lusitano stallion,
Voluntario Interagro, who was imported from Brazil by Heather Bender. “He isn’t competing yet—he needs more
time, but he’s got a stable brain and thinks all the commotion and activity at shows is fun,” Durham said with
With a demanding schedule as a small animal and zoo veterinarian, Durham is often in the barn at 4 a.m.
getting ready to ride. “The barn manager doesn’t mind,” she said. “I think she figures it’s
a good thing to have a veterinarian wandering the barn aisles in the wee hours of the morning!”