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Team #570 Helen Hedtke and P.S. Miss Defy

Team #570: Helen Hedtke and P.S. Miss Defy
From: Centennial, Colorado
Ages: 84 & 19
Combined Age: 103
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: July 2, 2022

The beginning: coming out of the womb loving horses.

At age eight, my grandpa bought me a white Shetland cross pony. Whity was my first experience learning animal communication. If no bridle was in view, she wouldn’t charge me, bridle in hand her ears would be flat, and she would whirl to kick me when in range. Then at age 11, grandpa bought me a 15-hand sorrel mare of unknown origin. Gypsy Red, supposedly six-years-old and trained, but turned out to be four years old with minimal training. Gypsy taught me gymnastics learning how to place my body against her neck as she galloped under the nearest low tree limb. Our first year together was learning to remount several times per ride and advancing to sticking the dropped shoulder and sudden whirl. Eventually she accepted her 11-year-old person and we proudly performed as a Square Dance team on horseback.

Adulthood allowed for some occasional riding until my two daughters joined Pony Club with Laura Backus as their lifelong trainer. When circumstances would allow, I also trained with Laura. Before my Century Club ride, I had not ridden for 17 years and never competed. Laura’s suggestion of joining the Century Club was daunting at 83 years old! It only took her a year to convince me as she slyly slipped my lessons into practicing dressage test. My patient sweet mount, Missy, I’ve known since she was four days old and born at Laura’s Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center. Missy is a former eventer and flawlessly trained. She patiently waits for me to get it right. I love this little mare.

With Laura’s encouraging training and Missy’s patience I rode my very first competition on a borrowed horse, with borrowed tack, in a borrowed shirt, tie, jacket and my daughter’s white breeches from her Pony Club days which she found on a closet shelf.

To quote John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

Thank you, The Dressage Foundation, for a privileged and exciting accomplishment to be a member of the Century Club.