When Dan Huss rode Ms Dreamy into the pen for the Senior Reining finals at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Show, he had a lot on his mind. It was the mare’s final run, and he was hoping to gain her a World title before her retirement. After winning the silver Individual medal and the Team gold medal at the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Equestrian Games earlier this year, it would have been the icing on the cake for her career.
He ran into the pen, stopped, backed up and did his first turnaround. Ms Dreamy was nailing each maneuver, and after turning to the right, he let her do her customary habit of rubbing her head on her leg. It surprised him when she rubbed both sides of her face, but since it was her last run, he let her go a few moments longer than usual before turning her to the left, hesitating and loping off. That’s when things went wrong.
With the bridle dangling from the bit and the headstall flapping against her neck, Ms Dreamy went into a large, fast circle. After a few moments, the whole configuration collapsed against her neck, leaving the reins in Huss’ hand with nothing to steer.
“I was going to stop her – that’s when I took a hold of both reins with two hands,” Huss said, mentioning the action he took as he realized the bridle had broken. “That was my immediate thought. And then for some reason, I had another thought. I had seen people drop reins and keep going when they had equipment failures, so I could ride and keep going. As I was going around there, I realized that I had already two-handed her, so I just kept going and let people see that she is a nice mare.”
Much like her name, Ms Dreamy (Magnum Chic Dream x A Gal With A Gun x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]) performed almost magically. With ears forward, she hit her slowdowns, swapped leads, ran her circles and continued around the arena to perform three beautiful rundowns and stops. At the end of the pattern, she stood at attention while Huss patted her neck and scratched her between the ears before turning and riding out of the arena, bridle still in hand. It looked as if they had done it a million times – but they hadn’t.
“I don’t do that [ride bridleless],” Huss admitted. “My wife does; she did that quite a bit when she rode reiners. She’d always play around with it. I’ve never done it, never practiced it or anything.
“When I watched the video, she looked pretty comfortable with it,” he added of Ms Dreamy.
The crowd of spectators, which had risen to their feet at the conclusion of the duo’s run, waited to hear how the judges would score the performance. But, due to rule SHW482.1, a World title for the mare wasn’t to be. That rule states that the “use of two hands (exception in junior, snaffle bit, or hackamore classes designated for two hands) or changing hands [will result in a score of 0].” If Huss had been able to recover without grabbing the bridle with both hands, he would have scored.
“It was disappointing because the judges kept scoring her and they marked her a 228.5,” Huss said. “So it was disappointing we didn’t get any hardware, but at least she still came out on top. She did her job extremely well. She showed people what a nice reiner she really is.”
Though Ms Dreamy didn’t gain an AQHA World title, the earner of more than $170,000 ended her career on a high note that will have people talking for years to come. As the 8-year-old mare retires to produce the next generation, Huss hopes to see her talent and grit pass on to her offspring.
“Whenever one retires that’s that nice, it’s a little disappointing, but she’s got a 2-year-old that hopefully will turn out as nice as she is,” Huss said. “She’s a thinker and she’s sensitive but still really enjoyable to ride. She’s taught me more about finishing a horse than I’ve taught other horses. She’s definitely a special one.”
Watch Ms Dreamy’s incredible run here: