Rider's Tribune: The First Victory Gallop

Team Legacy just returned from a successful two weeks at the beautiful Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma, CA. Junior rider Cate Jeschke gives us an account of a very special achievement in her riding career:

“Is it okay that we put you in the derby? You did so well with the other classes. The derby is slightly different than your other classes, it’s a bigger class and it’s somewhat harder,” Lizzie said. Just one more class? It doesn’t seem too bad.

“Okay,” I say.

“This one will be a little harder, but you have some time,” she adds.

We get to walk the course before we go, so Lizzie and I go out and start planning. “Okay,” Lizzie says, “so you’re going to turn to the first jump right about here.” She walks over and stands in a straight line with the jump. “After this one where do you go?” We go around the first jump. “Remember, I will be over here waving at you so you stay straight after the first jump,” Lizzie says. When we walk out of the arena she says, “Now we have a plan. You know where to go and when to turn, that’s what’s helpful about course walks.”

About an hour later I’m sitting on Rojo, way more nervous than I thought I would be. Lizzie and I go over the course, talking in detail, letting me watch others to see what I liked and didn’t like about their course. “Remember, stick to the plan, and of course, have fun!” She reminds me. I nod slowly, thinking about the course again. “Okay,” Lizzie says, “looks like you’re next. Good luck, and remember to take a deep breath before you canter. You’ve got this!”

I walk slowly into the ring, going over the course in my head again. I pick up the canter and turn the corner to the first jump. I see Lizzie standing at the in-gate waving, which makes me grin. The rest of the course goes smoothly, and by the end I’m grinning from ear to ear. I walk out and Lizzie gives me a thumbs up. “Great job! You stuck to the plan. You did everything we discussed!” Then the judge announces the score. “Score: 80.” 80? Wow! That’s great! Lizzie looks back at me. “That’s so good Cate, and in your first derby, too!”

Soon they start reading the results. “…and in third place, Press to Play and Cate Jeschke!” I walk out to get my ribbon. Finally, we do a victory gallop. I get a rush of excitement when we start. When Rojo and I exit the arena, I can’t stop smiling.

That was my first ever derby, and it will definitely be something that will be memorable to me.


Cate Jeschke is 12 years old and will be entering the 7th grade at The Bush School in Seattle, Washington this fall. Cate has been riding for four years and began her partnership with her mount, Press to Play, earlier this year. They compete in the Pre-Children’s Hunter and Equitation divisions where she hopes to finish the season strong and move up to the 3’ Children’s Hunter and Equitation divisions in the future.

Legacy Hunters and Jumpers offers riding lessons and hunter jumper competition training serving Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Woodinville. Legacy is owned and operated by Shelly Kerron and located in Woodinville, WA.