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Team #683 Patricia Borders and Reba McIntyre

Team #683: Patricia Borders and Reba McIntyre
From: Woodstock, Georgia
Ages: 75 & 27
Combined Age: 102
Test: Introductory Level Test B
Date: August 12, 2023

Twenty-seven years with Reba has been a wild and wonderful experience. Her personality and her story are as colorful as she is. Foaled here on the farm, Reba was the sixth and last baby out of a broodmare that I rescued from a kill pen. The mare had impressive American Saddlebred registration papers and all five of her previous foals became champion competitors for me. I had always dreamed of having a spotted horse, so I bred for color to a spotted Saddlebred. Be careful what you wish for: at a very early age I knew Reba was not destined to enhance my winning reputation in the Saddlebred world. At a loss of what to do with her, advice came from a friend at the local tack store to try dressage with her. 

My only exposure to dressage was The Spanish Riding School and the 1996 Olympic Freestyles. I had no clue what “dressage” meant. Fate connected me with trainer, Laura Wharton, who started Reba and me together on the long and endless road of learning. It was like starting all over for me, so Reba and I learned the sport together. Every lesson and every ride was a learning experience. I was hooked. 

Meanwhile, Reba, though smart, talented, and well-suited to dressage, thought the lower levels were boring; she was famous for adding spice to a test thus not impressing the judges. Laura kept saying she was going to be an FEI horse; be patient. I didn’t know what FEI was either.

Success did come and the upper levels suited her despite constantly figuring out an “easier,” not “correct” way of doing things. Reba became AHSA All Breed Champion, and GDCTA Year End Champion, and shined at freestyles, her favorite. In 2010, at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Reba was honored with a special display at the American Saddlebred Museum.

I was riding for my USDF gold medal at the Grand Prix when I felt something go wrong. A trip to Rood and Riddle resulted in surgery for a bone chip. Successfully rehabilitated, I could have brought her back, but with other horses coming along, I decided to retire her. She had done so much for me including being my pathway to dressage. She is the horse of a lifetime. Reba never looked back; she loves her freedom and being a boss mare. 

That was almost 10 years ago, and I am indebted to Parker Mallernee for his patience and gifted horsemanship in preparing her for this class. I would also like to thank GDCTA for their hospitality and including me at their wonderful show. Also thank you to the overwhelming number of fans, friends, and show participants who supported us. Special thanks to The Dressage Foundation for this and all their other wonderful programs. This was a great experience that I will always treasure.