The Making of a Champion
Little did Patti and Bruce Boysen know that the sunny day that they sat their five-year-old-daughter, Katie, on her first horse, would so affect the course of their lives. Today Katie is an award-winning, equestrian, and the Boysen's are the proud "grandparents" of two, American Saddlebred Champion horses named CH S.S. Lies and Alibis (LA) and CH Executive Dunk (Duncan).
Back then, Katie's favorite movie was Black Beauty and her room at home was full of horses of the stuffed variety; but their vacation spot, the Cloister on Sea Island, had the real deal. "It was all over after that first lesson," remembers Patti. "Katie spent the rest of that vacation either riding or feeding the horses."
Growing up on Hilton Head Island, Katie pursued riding at both Moss Creek and Lawton Stables, but it took several years for her to find her niche for competition. "When I first started training, I was in the hunter/jumper class, Katie explained. "I took a few falls and got scared. I didn't want to go back," she remembered.
At around age 12, Katie was introduced to "saddle seat," an English type of riding in which you "show" the horse to its best advantage. What was important to Katie was that jumping wasn't required. It was the first piece of the puzzle for the determined young rider. The next step was to find a horse that was a good "fit," with a temperament right for wowing the judges in the ring. It wasn't easy. The Boysens bought and sold five horses before they found LA and Duncan at the prestigious DeLovely Farms in Rockport, Indiana.
The final piece was discovering trainer Christy Parker at Pine Haven Stables in Brunswick, Georgia. "We have a special bond," smiled Katie. Now the Hilton Head Christian Academy junior makes the four-hour round trip to Brunswick almost every Saturday to train.
Katie participates in approximately 10 horse shows per year. LA competes in the three-gaited Country Pleasure division, while Duncan's specialty is the challenging, five-gaited Show Pleasure division. Katie has a lot to think about in the show ring. The challenge is to present the best "snapshot" of her horse by striving for perfect form. To achieve this standard, Katie must keep the horse's head raised, while tucking his nose, in order to achieve a beautifully arched neck. At the same time, she makes sure that the horse lifts its knees in the elegant, high-stepping motion and correct gait (the order that the hooves touch down), all the while strategizing to position her horse to best advantage when riding past the judges who award points.
Rewards include peppermint candies for the horses. Katie says both Duncan and LA will do anything for a peppermint. "They're addicted," she laughed.
Fast forward 12 years from that sunny day on Sea Island, and the little girl has grown into a poised, elegant champion who is celebrating a stellar 2008 show season. Katie won the Southeastern Regional Championship title on both of her horses. She also won the High Point Championship in the five-gaited Show Pleasure division for the state of Georgia, and Reserve High Point Championship in the Country Pleasure division. For the past two years, she has qualified for the World Championships held in Louisville, Kentucky. Katie's determination and perseverance have paid off. LA and Duncan will be expecting some peppermints!