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Monday, Apr. 20, 2015

Star of the trail

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brooke encourages My All American Colors ("Buck") to take a log while on a trail ride.
(Submitted photo)
Take a two-year-old, barely broke filly and an 11-year-old girl and you could have a recipe for disaster.

Or a recipe for greatness.

Brooke Burgess, now a 20-year-old Motlow College student living in Manchester, and her now 11-year-old spotted saddle mare Pride's Stars & Stripes have been racking up the ribbons in TWHBEA and SSHBEA shows across the South.

Double the pleasure

"She's double-registered," said Brooke, a slender blonde with a grin as big as the outdoors she loves so much. "All of our horses are registered as walking horses and spotted saddle horses."

In fact, the first year she owned Star, she showed in the walking horse lite shod divisions, but when she realized she wasn't really having fun, she pulled the shoes off the filly and rethought her options.

"I thought, 'What can I do with her? She's just a show horse,'" said Brooke.

Just a show horse?

Leap of faith

Brooke even included Star in her high school senior photo.
(Submitted photo)
Brooke remembered that one of the selling characteristics of both spotted saddle horses and Tennessee walking horses is their versatility. She decided to test that with Star -- and found entirely new dimensions in the talents of her black and white mare.

"It turns out, she really loves jumping!" she said.

And running barrels and poles. And cutting cattle. And trail riding, obstacle courses, and just about anything you can think of asking a horse to do. For nine years now, they've honed their craft and deepened their partnerships and Star has become one of those horses that claim family membership.

"I'll never sell her," said Brooke laughing.

Short 'vacation'

She did let the mare have part of the year off, though, for maternity leave, but hopes to have her back in competition trim before long. She won't be at the Spotted Saddle World Grand Championship next weekend as a competititor, but then, as a sport horse competitor, she rarely is. But she and Star demonstrate the versatility and beauty of the breed that's been dazzling the country with both style and substance.

She will be at the Sport Horse World Grand Championship in November though, ready to challenge current champ Terry Givens and his High Country Outlaw for top honors.

"I was reserve last year," she said.

Winning team

Of course, she and Star have won plenty on their own.

"She was the 2009 SSHBEA Speed Horse," said Brooke., "She loves to go fast -- that's what we're known for."

In fact, Brooke has often taken the gaited mare to regular "fun shows" and competed in Western speed events against quarter horses and other breeds more traditionally found in those classes. They unlikely pair have won more than their fair share of the ribbons in those fun shows, too.

(Submitted photo)
Brooke was also named the 2009 Pole Bending Champion in TWHBEA Versatility standings and the Reserve Champion in the Over Fences category. Always a high points leader, and many times a junior champion, she and Star make a formidable team in the ring.

Another partner

Of course, with Star out of action and playing mommy to her new stud colt, Brooke has been working more with one of her other horses, My All American Colors, a buckskin with a bold splash of white across her neck and white socks capped with the familiar black points of buckskin coloration.

"She was the Three- and the Four-year-old World Grand Champion," said Brooke. "We're going for the open sport horse this year."

In fact, Brooke will be riding both Buck and Star in that competition. Because it is an open class, she isn't restricted by the ages of the mares.

But don't think these two, or any of the other six or seven horses she owns, are pampered show stars, kept up in the stall and only brought out to practice.

"I go trail riding with them every weekend," said Brooke. "If I'm not at school, I'm with my horses. That's just the way I am."

Talent recognized

Even though she's still relatively young, Brooke is already well known for her accomplishments. She hasn't even had to hunt for a 9-to-5 or even part-time job because her eye for good horses has become legendary.

Brooke and Star demonstrate the speed around the poles that won them the 2009 TWHBEA championship.
(Submitted photo)
"I sell horses for people all over," she said. "I sent two to Canada just last week. I've sent horses to Oklahoma, Florida, California ..."

She earns a commission on the sales, and sometimes that commission is in the form of another horse. One such deal brought a mare back home who had been raised by Brooke and her family, who then provided them with another colt with great potential.

Family backing

Brooke's father, Michael Burgess, her mother Sibbianne Shockley, and her grandparents, Ken and Judy Burgess, have been very supportive of her hobby/career.

"My dad got me started," said Brooke. "My grandfather built all my jumps."

She keeps most of her horses at her grandparents' farm. When she goes out to work with Star and the others, she gets to enjoy a small reunion every time -- with the two-legged and four-legged members of the family.

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