“GO BIG OR GO HOME” – that’s what came to mind when Katherine McConkey told me the story of her 2019 show season with her mare, Cool Coastin Lady (Charlie).
…by Lynn Riley – Area 3 Member
Kat’s previous riding experience was showing on the Trillium Circuit, Durham Saddle Club and Quarter Horse Circuit in English events and she had dabbled in Dressage. She was interested in showing a performance level horse in English and Western, but was hesitant because she had previously never ridden Western. In the late summer of 2018, Andrew Dewar gave Kat a call with excitement in his voice about a horse he thought would be a great match for her in achieving her goal of showing in the all around events . Kat tried Charlie, fell in love and bought her a couple of weeks later. At the time, the 2011 bay mare was only broke for Western Riding, but showed huge potential for the all around events.
Andrew and Pat Chamberland’s encouragement and guidance helped Kat and Charlie build their confidence in each other and they added several classes to both their show repertoires for 2019. They went for it and never looked back!!!! The pair showed in: Halter, Showmanship, Western Horsemanship, Western Pleasure and Hunt Seat Equitation. Andrew rode the mare in Trail and Western Riding and Pat lead Charlie in Halter.
Some of the 2019 show highlights included:
- Reserve High Point Rookie Amateur award at Summerama
- Area 3 Reserve High Point All Around Rookie Amateur
- OQHA High Point All Around Rookie Amateur
- Area 3 High Point All Around Open Horse (with Andrew)
Kat entered the Quarter Horse world when she felt she was not growing as a rider and turned to Dianne Howe for help. Kat says, “Dianne was a wealth of knowledge – I began taking lessons with her and was learning how much I didn’t know.” Dianne introduced her to Andrew, as she and Hilton started going to Florida for the winter. Andrew was kind enough to come out to Bowmanville and give Kat a lesson on her then horse Izzy. She moved Izzy to Andrew’s barn in Port Perry and began working on filling in all the gaps. She showed Izzy on the Quarter Horse circuit for a handful of years in Halter, Showmanship, Hunter Under Saddle, Hunt Seat Equitation and Hunter Over Fences.
If you see Kat at a show her smile is worth a thousand words! She says that horse showing is fun for her as she is beyond lucky to show with Dewar Performance Horses, they are the most amazing group of people to spend time with away from the “real world”. Plus, she gets to show with her best friend Sonia Morin which is always a fun time. According to Kat, “Put the two of us together and fun will always happen.” Family & friends are everything to her in her personal life and no different when it comes to the horse show world. She has made lifelong friends through horse showing and has learned what true friendship looks like. She feels she has never met such warm welcoming people in what is traditionally a very competitive world.
Of course, Charlie plays a big role in making horse showing a great experience. In their first show season together, Kat learned so much about Charlie. The bay mare likes Lifesaver mints and mini carrots for her end of show day snack. She does not like baths and you will also be receiving a shower yourself. Charlie LOVES showing – waiting to go into the show ring the look in Charlie’s eyes was something else, she would have a swagger to her walk, ears forward ready to go. She has a very focused drive in the show ring and knows exactly where the judges are. She always tries so hard and gives 100% and more. Charlie had some long show days and she was never grumpy or showed signs of being done. Those were the days that she got the entire bag of mini carrots (note below 😊). Kat talks to Charlie when they show and after the class is finished, whether it went well or not as it is all learning, she always tells her mare that she is a good and pretty girl. With Charlie having only been ridden Western in the past and ridden English only a handful of time before show season, the pair did very well in Equitation.
Learning how to be on the bit for Equitation and Horsemanship didn’t come easy for her, but with the amazing training of Andrew and Pat and Charlie’s natural talent, the mare has come a long way. This off season, the pair will be working towards the Level 1 Championships and Kat is thinking they may try Congress next year.
When asked about Charlie’s personality, Kat said, “She is a sassy mare who definitely has her opinion about things.” What Kat loves about her horse is she is cheeky and full of personality and is often known as the “Queen” around the barn. There is a side to Charlie that not everyone sees which she also likes -the mare is a big softy when it comes to Kat’s boyfriend Bryan. Charlie loves receiving pets and treats from him and she knows when he comes to horse shows she is going to get a lot of love and treats and probably the entire bag of mini carrots.
Kat had a fantastic show season and she would like to thank:
- Andrew who is so good at what he does and is such a hardworking individual
- Pat who is always there for her and has taught Kat and Charlie so much
- Lucas Alcock for making sure the pair look great
- Sonia for being the bestest friend a girl could ask for
- The gang at Dewar Performance Horses
- Her mom and dad (Jenny & Tom McConkey)
- Her sister, brother-in-law and nephews (Mandy, Jason, Malcolm & Elliot Redman)
- Her boyfriend Bryan Hartley for being so supportive
In the “real world”, Kat works with the Boys & Girls Club of Durham as the Resource Development Director. She has always worked in the not-for-profit field and loves helping the community. She enjoys walks with Bryan and their dogs, Steve and Ares, running, gardening, spending time with family and friends and spending time with Charlie and the entire crew at Dewar Performance Horses.
Best of luck to Kat and Charlie in achieving their goals in 2020!