Dexter's Katie Schutte and her horse Rigden take home state-wide equestrian awards
The past year was a good one for Dexter’s Katie Schutte and her horse, Rigden. This horse riding team achieved the honor of Junior Training Horse Trial Champion, high point first year Training rider, and Overall High Point Junior horse for 2023, in the Michigan Eventing Association.
Considering this is such a high achievement in the equestrian world, the Sun Times News (STN) connected with Schutte, a student at Dexter High School, over the holidays to talk about it.
“I was extremely grateful to receive the awards come banquet. My horse, humbly known as Rigden, felt completely foot perfect the entire season so the awards were just the cherry on top,” Schutte told STN. “I know a lot of incredible riders who have received the same awards as me so it just felt that much more special to be receiving them as well.”
In explaining the honor, Schutte, who's trained by Cathy Henderson with Henderson Equestrian Services at Timber Run Stables in Pinckney, said the Junior Training Championship is won by the junior rider with the highest amount of accumulated points by the end of the season. Eventing is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combine and compete against other competitors across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Schutte said Training is the level at which she was competing (roughly a 3’3” jumping height), and because it was her first year competing at the level she also won the high point award for a first year rider at Training level. The overall high point junior horse award goes to the rider and horse combination that achieved the highest amount of points by the end of the season (across all levels).
The Michigan Eventing Association (TEAM) is a state-wide foundation based around the sport of eventing. Schutte said the main difference from foundations like TEAM and high school equestrian teams is that they offer completely different sports.
“While TEAM is centered only around 3-day eventing, high school equestrian teams expand over a wider variety of equestrian sports (mainly western) and tend to be focused on a lower level (jump height) than what foundations like TEAM go up to,” she explained.
STN asked her about getting into competitive horseback riding and eventing. She has been riding for 10 years and all 10 have been spent eventing.
“I started riding at 7, competing at 8 when I was gifted my first horse, and still the spark hasn’t faded,” says Schutte. “Horses have just always been a part of my life and I can’t imagine any day spent away from them.”
This sentiment is a theme for her. Her favorite part of eventing is just the horses.
“When you find a horse that will put in 110 percent for you, there really is no better feeling,” she said. “A large part success in eventing is based on the relationship between horse and rider. I'm a big believer that riders who spend more time bonding with their horses find more success in competition because both them and their horse know they have something to work for beyond a ribbon.”
Looking ahead, STN asked her about her future in this sport and with horses.
“I really never see myself without a horse by my side,” she said. “In 10 years I have not been able to keep away from the saddle for more than a week, so I think living a life without horses would be pretty boring. That being said, I will without a doubt be riding for the rest of my life, whether it’s leisurely or competitively, there will always be a part of me anchored in the equestrian community.”