December Horse & Rider of the Month – Peggy Riley & Jetalito Sunny Step

Peggy-RileyIt isn’t big news that our World Championships brings folks from all over; our 2015 show saw horses and riders from all over the U.S. and Canada. But did you know that we also had one special duo that originally hail from the Netherlands? Meet Jay (Jetalito Sunny Step), a 15.1h 11-year old palomino overo paint mare, and her owner, Peggy Riley. One unstoppable duo that both come from very, very far away!

Peggy purchased Jay in 2004 from breeder Leo Copinga in the Netherlands. Jay was just a four-month old filly at the time, but Peggy knew she had to have her; “Intuitive, but best decision I have ever made!” Peggy later flew Jay all the way from the Netherlands to their new home in Alabama.

Peggy and Jay got their start in Western Dressage in 2010. With a background in dressage and jumping, she says; “when (Western Dressage) was finally given a name in 2010… it felt like coming home.” Her very first Western dressage show was at a fancy english barn in Alabama. She remembers that everyone was pretty unsure; “I scored very well, finishing among the highest scores of the day. There were only 2-3 western dressage riders that day, the rest traditional dressage. The judge was pleasantly surprised about this ‘new’ discipline!!”

She says that in training, her foundation for any discipline lies in dressage principles; “it makes Jay a well-rounded, versatile horse.” When they’re not busy in the Western Dressage ring, they compete in obstacle events, reining, trail riding, ranch riding, stock horse events, work cows,  teach beginner and advanced lessons, jump a course, or try their hand at ranch pleasure and ranch trail. Jay is yet another Western Dressage horse that epitomizes the all-around, ‘everything-in-one’ horse. We love that such a pretty, multi-talented mare is an advocate for our sport!

So what’s the most challenging thing about Jay? “She is too smart for her own good!!” Jay knows how to open gates and stall doors, and when treats are involved, she’ll go through her entire repertoire of tricks to get it. Peggy says: “she outsmarts me during training sometimes, too. When she gets bored she will throw in her own maneuvers. I have to keep things versatile to keep her focused!”

Peggy-Riley1Peggy and Jay have competed at the last two Western Dressage World Championships. She says that her favorite thing about attending each year is seeing old and new like-minded friends. “This year was our first freestyle; it was new to us and a lot of fun!” She says that the championships were also a challenge. Winning a Level 1 class last year, she decided to try her hand at Level 2. “It came with the obvious challenges and tough competition, but we did well overall, got decent scores and brought home lots of homework.”

We asked Peggy for a word of advice on her experiences with Western Dressage; “Never follow the crowd just because someone else tells you to. Educate yourself, make sure you are fully behind your (equestrian) decisions and pursuits. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!” What is her favorite thing about Western Dressage? “Everywhere you go, people seem pleasantly surprised about Western Dressage. Those that were ‘on the fence’ about the discipline, thinking it’s just dressage in a western saddle, are always pleasantly surprised when they see Jay perform a perfect reining spin as well!”

One Response to “December Horse & Rider of the Month – Peggy Riley & Jetalito Sunny Step

  • Diane Tuler
    2 years ago

    You picked great subjects to write about!