July 17, 2018 – Whoever said that a dog was a man — or woman’s — best friend obviously didn’t know Rachel Edwards’ love for her one-eyed companion and star dressage horse, Hope TF. Edwards first laid eyes on the talented mare (His Highness–SPS Samantha, Sandro Hit) when Hope TF was only 2 years old when her father purchased her from her breeder, Debbie Morrison. Little did she know, Hope TF, who is by the famous Hanoverian stallion His Highness, would become what she calls “her horse through-and-through,” and help her realize her true passion — teaching and riding dressage at her current farm, Stellar Dressage.
Her graduate degree from Texas A&M University was meant to send her on a career path towards marine science. She worked at the research institute full time and only trained on the side. Eventually, her training business kept growing until her full-time job at the institute became part-time as her training business flourished. Throughout her professional transition, the one constant in Edwards’ life was Hope TF.
“She has been a constant in my life no matter what — she is my best friend,” Edwards said. “She has traveled across the country with me — to undergraduate at the University of North Carolina and then to grad school in Texas. If I’m ready to train or compete, she’s like, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ When I put those goals on the backburner to focus on school, she’s like, ‘No problem, I’ll be ready whenever you are.’ Hope is always ready for a new adventure, and despite having only one eye, she’s never let that slow her down. She comes out to the ring and is ready to try her very best for her rider.”
Together, the pair had success in the dressage world early on in Hope TF’s career, winning the Region 1 Junior/Young Rider Training Level championship when she was only 4 years old and in her first year of competition.
In addition to making a name for herself in the dressage ring, Hope TF has also earned a name for herself in the barn — Princess. Out of the 11 horses Edwards has on her farm, Hope TF is the only mare. With her spunky attitude, her presence never goes unnoticed by her fellow barnmates.
“We all joke that she’s got all these boyfriends because all of the geldings just love her,” Edwards joked. “She’ll give them grumpy looks sometimes but it doesn’t matter, they just adore her!”
Hope TF’s reputation as the barn’s resident royal is only fitting as she was sired by the Hanoverian stallion His Highness, who was owned by Leatherdale Farms prior to his passing in 2007. His Highness earned his fame after he was the undisputed licensing champion in 2002. He also was the proclaimed champion of the 4-year-old stallions at the Danish licensing in 2005, and the champion at his stallion performance test in Prussendorf in 2003. His progeny have developed into quality high-performance athletes with kind temperaments and expressive gaits.
“I have followed Hope since she was first born and have loved her progress over the years,” Louise Leatherdale, owner of Leatherdale Farms said. “She is truly a His Highness daughter with her wonderful temperament and work ethic.”
Success runs in Hope TF’s blood, and she has proven herself a loyal and reliable companion throughout her entire competitive career. In addition to her sweet disposition and talent with Edwards, she has also found success with a young rider looking to gain experience in the show ring. One of Edwards’ young students, Alexandra Peterson, had the opportunity to compete Hope TF at the GSEC Diamond Classic II in Texas. The new pair qualified for regional championships and won the junior/young rider high-point award.
“When Alex’s horse injured himself after she entered the show, I gave her the opportunity to catch-ride Hope,” Edwards explained. “It was Alex’s first licensed dressage show in her life and she had only ridden Hope less than 10 times. Hope took wonderful care of her! I think it speaks a lot to her rideability and personality.”
Though Hope TF was born with only one eye, Edwards does not believe it has been a hindrance to her training development. The only time the mare became more noticeably aware of her blind spot was after she gave birth to her only foal, Ruvalde, by Rotspon.
These best friends show no sign of slowing down any time soon!