From Rescue to Western Dressage by Nichole Oster

In the spring of 2015, our lifelong dream of owning a horse farm became a reality. Now the challenge was to fill the farm with horses! During my teen years, I worked for several horse farms, one of which was a Morgan show and breeding facility. It was here that I fell in love with the personality and resilience of the Morgan horse and I knew they would make a perfect fit for our family.

Confetti web

Nichole Oster riding Confetti’s Tickertape

As we began the search for the “perfect” horse, it became clear there were many beautiful Morgans available for adoption through rescue organizations. It was on the Forever Morgans website that I was struck by the picture of a proud, black mare named Confetti’s Tickertape. Although Confetti was billed as “hot”, requiring an experienced rider, I was extremely interested in her. As we worked through Forever Morgans and her wonderful foster family, Jan Scotto, we learned this 16 year old beauty had primarily been used as a broodmare. She had foaled 7 registered Morgans & 2 Fresian crosses. We were not interested in a broodmare but we did want a horse that could ride and drive and the more we learned about her, the more I knew she’d be perfect for us. Unfortunately, there was no way we could make a trip to visit her before adoption, so we took a leap of faith and adopted her sight unseen. She became the second Morgan we adopted through Forever Morgans.

Shortly after Confetti’s arrival, we decided it was time to go for a test ride. This first ride didn’t go so well… Confetti lived up to her reputation of being hot and my husband still loves to tell the story of how she did everything to get me off, but buck! Our first ride was definitely memorable and, sadly, would be our last for a few more months.

After life settle down a bit, I started riding Confetti a few times per week and quickly realized she had some serious training at some point in her life. Despite both of our quirks, I started finding a few of her “buttons” and thought it would be fun to see if we could be successful in Western Dressage. We loaded her up and took her to Jennifer Wallace’s for an initial assessment to see if she thought we could be successful in this exciting new discipline.

Much to my surprise, and despite a typical “hot” ride, Jennifer felt we could be very successful at Western Dressage if we could get Confetti to relax. Jennifer worked with us to make sure we knew where to find schooling shows and helped answer our many questions regarding the sport and showing in general. Our first show was a cold, windy day in April but we were going to show regardless of the weather! It was so exciting to get our first show out of the way…we learned a great deal and we even posted respectable scores! YES!

This first outing sparked “the show bug” and I quickly found a new goal to work towards… Southern States Regional Morgan Horse Show from May 25-28. This show caught my eye because the Western Dressage classes would raise the level of competition and these classes were open to all breeds, not just Morgans. As a newbie to showing, the show committee was fabulous at answering my questions! Once we were there, everyone was extremely helpful and I knew we had made the right decision to show, no matter how we placed. As we prepared to enter the ring, I reflected on our first ride. I stroked her neck and felt her relax under my touch as I smiled. Little did I know we would qualify for the Morgan Grand Nationals that day.

In just a few short months, learning the discipline of Western Dressage has completely changed Confetti. She has gone from not wanting to flat walk to willingly and happily performing a free walk, guided primarily by seat and legs. She has learned to trust and give to the bit while bending and moving very differently. Her trot has become very comfortable and she is no longer an anxious, sweaty, foamy hot mess after a short ride.

Who knew that one small decision to try the sport of Western Dressage would allow a former broodmare and rescue the opportunity to perform at the Morgan Grand Nationals while fostering a remarkable level of trust between horse and human? Confetti enjoys being the center of attention but she’ll have to share the spotlight, as we’ve already started working our first rescue, Gradell’s Act One (Julie), for Western Dressage and have plans to take both to a show very soon!

Submitted by Nichole Oster

2 Responses to “From Rescue to Western Dressage by Nichole Oster

  • Linda Sewall
    1 year ago

    Congratulations on your success with your rescues! Please share this wonderful story on the Virginia Carolinas Morgan Horse Club page!

    • Deirdre Davenport
      1 year ago

      Hi Linda, If you are members on their Facebook pages, it may be easy for you to share the link to their pages. Otherwise can you send us the links where we can post the story? Email us at info@westerndressageassociation.org