Jake the “Wing Pony” and Jodi Dickey help a Kentucky Horse Park competitor who’d lately misplaced his proper eye.
Even although her horse is now not capable of take part within the leaping phases, one Kentucky three-day eventer has discovered a singular technique to keep concerned within the sport she loves and help her fellow rivals on the similar time.
Jodi Dickey and her longtime companion Jake have garnered additional consideration at this yr’s Kentucky Horse Park occasions of their lime inexperienced “working” apparel. Jake’s regular demeanor and Jodi’s pleasant face make them the right option to accompany younger, inexperienced horses in want of additional emotional help on the busy, typically chaotic facility in Lexington, Ky.
“I pick competitors and their horses up at the barn, then walk them to the ring, putting my horse between the nervous horse and scary things,” Jodi defined. “It helps protect the horse from the busyness of the Kentucky Horse Park, particularly with dressage as the horses can get really uptight and nervous on the long walk down to the dressage complex. Sometimes the rider needs some emotional support, as well!”
The “Wing Pony” thought was born earlier this yr when Jake’s soundness points have been revealed to be attributable to an ill-fitting dressage saddle.
Jodi had been signed as much as compete on the KHP in May, alongside together with her good friend driving a primary time KHP competitor.
“I realized I couldn’t show because I only had a western saddle that fit Jake,” Jodi stated. “I wondered if I could go as a non-compete and just be a babysitter for my friend’s horse. Another friend of mine got excited about that idea, and that was when the helmet and the saddle cover and all of that came about.”
The official “Wing Pony” on the clock on the Kentucky Horse Park
The small payment Jodi prices rivals for the service goes to cowl her bills, then every thing above that’s donated to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation. The 501(c)3 group is devoted to reaching the imaginative and prescient for the KHP because the world’s main equestrian vacation spot as a working horse farm, a world-renowned heart for present and competitors, and a global heart for equine schooling.
“That was my first office job out of undergrad, so it is something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Jodi defined. “I just cover my expenses and then send the rest to improve the Kentucky Horse Park for all of us.”
Though she has 38 years of expertise within the saddle, Jodi had by no means ridden western earlier than this yr. There was undoubtedly a studying curve in adapting to one-handed driving, however Jake is really having fun with his new gig.
“It’s been a really fun adventure, invigorating for both of us to learn something new,” Jodi stated. “Now I’m learning to pony polo horses and young Thoroughbreds on the farm, and we’re hopefully going to try ponying at the racetrack a little bit later this year.”
If all goes properly, Jodi hopes to have the ability to pony just a few horses on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships being held at Keeneland in November. It’s a lofty objective, however she’s made mates within the racing group who will assist her information Jake step-by-step by way of the qualification course of to ensure each of them are as much as the duty.
“I have never been on the track, so the next step is to take Jake to go get my exercise license,” Jodi stated. “At any point, if either of us don’t like it, we’ll just stop. But so far, he’s been really tolerant and he seems to like the challenge. Jake has always been the low horse on the totem pole, but with a rider on his back he really does like leading another horse around!”
At the tip of the day, all that issues to Jodi is that Jake has a satisfying, fascinating job that is not too laborious on his physique. It’s one other technique to keep related together with her longtime companion, and a enjoyable technique to problem her personal horsemanship expertise as properly.
“I’ve had a ton of support, people telling me that this is a great idea,” Jodi stated. “I really love the idea that I can still participate in the horse trials, but I don’t have to stress!”