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Team #645 Janet Hadden and Pippin Der Kurze

Team #645: Janet Hadden and Pippin Der Kurze
From: Avella, Pennsylvania
Ages: 80 & 20
Combined Age: 100
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: May 27, 2023

I always loved horses, even before I met my first one. It was just something I was born knowing. I grew up on Pittsburgh’s North Side, about as far from a farm and equestrian life as you could be. My German immigrant parents didn’t share my love of horses because it wasn’t industrious or practical. Instead of riding lessons, I learned how to play the trumpet and clarinet.

I didn’t get to be around horses until I took my oldest daughter for riding lessons to get her Girl Scout badge. She eventually moved on to other sporting activities, but my youngest daughter was as smitten with horses as I was. She continued to take lessons and compete in Hunter/Jumper shows around the area and ultimately competed nationally.  She now makes part of her living as a trainer.

I owned a restaurant with my first husband and when we sold that in the late 1980s. I went back to school for my Master’s degree and became an intake supervisor for Allegheny County Children Youth and Family Services where I worked for 24 years. While I was working, I was lucky to ride one or two days a week. Even in that brief amount of time, I had a sense of connection. It made me feel better no matter what stress I had in my regular day-to-day.  Riding helped me when I was feeling down or stressed after my divorce.

Although we had purchased a horse for my daughter, I was 40 years old before I finally got to have a horse of my own. Rocking C King, “Rocky,” aka "Cotton Club" was an American Quarter Horse. He and I would trail-ride and compete in some Hunter/Jumper shows. Dressage wasn’t much of a thing at that time, especially in western Pennsylvania. We were lucky that we found some excellent instructors and I grew to love the sport. Even though Rocky didn’t have the expected look for a dressage horse, he would pack me around and we always came home with a ribbon.

When he retired, I rode my daughter’s Percheron Cross and eventually purchased a Premarin foal, Muraco, when he was six months old. My daughter, Emily, worked with him as a young horse training him to Third Levell and then I started riding him. By then we had greater access to quality training, and I enjoyed pushing myself to learn and develop as a rider.

In 2015, I was able to realize the next part of my dream and that was to have enough land where I could live with my horses and wake up with them every morning. It was a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to purchase Pippin, a Canadian Warmblood. Pippin was a CDI Para-Equestrian with a young rider who had hoped to represent the United States in international competitions. Although he has difficult gaits, very bouncy and elevated, he has the perfect temperament to be a partner for a senior rider. We have a partnership and we both must do our jobs; he makes it very clear when I am not holding up my end!

Queen Elizabeth rode into her 90s and I hope to do the same. I love that The Dressage Foundation created the Century Club to showcase senior riders and I am honored to be part of that club.  Muraco will be 17 in 2026 and I look forward to having a Century Club ride with him then!