MALVERN, Pa--It was last February when Gillian King and Alta Mira's owners Barbara and Natalie Peterson began dreaming of the possibility of winning the Side Saddle class at the Devon Horse Show.
"I started my business, Main Line Sporthorses, up again at Summerbrook Farm in Malvern last year," said King. "When I came to Summerbrook, Brody (Alta Mira's barn name) was boarding here. He's a very fancy horse, but he was out of work and semi-retired at age 18."
"Then in February, we had this dream about Devon," said King. "I had won in side saddle at Upperville, and I didn't want to show side saddle again unless I had a really good horse. I saw Brody trot and jump and thought, `This could be the horse.'"
"I STARTED riding him last March." said King. "We took him to Kimberton for his first show in side saddle, and he was champion. Then we went to St. Christopher's, and he was champion again. He had been champion three times before we went to Devon, so we knew we had a good chance. He went into Devon undefeated."
King and Brody won the Under Saddle class, placed second in the Hunter Hack and third in the Over Fences class to take the Devon championship with 20 points.
They finished their schedule of side saddle shows at Upperville, where they were reserve champions, thus sewing up the USEF Side Saddle Horse of the Year title.
"It was exciting for the Petersons to have Brody come into the limelight again," said King. "He'd been a junior hunter before and had won at places like the Hampton Classic."
"He'll be out and about again this year," said King. "We're undecided about going side saddle again. Maybe he'll do some national derbys. I'd love to have him be champion at both Devon and Upperville in side saddle. He's such a special horse."
"He's in work now, but he'll stay here in Malvern when I go to Aiken," said King. "My assistant trainer will work with him."
"I'm off to Aiken the beginning of February," said King. "Aiken has a lot of good hunter shows, and it's a big eventing center in the winter. My business is half hunters and half eventing, so it's a perfect spot for me to spend the winter. I'll come back in March."
"It's thrilling for me to see how well Main Line Sporthorses has done in just a year," said King. "I give lessons to all levels. I have an indoor, which is rare in Malvern. I have a lot of Off-The-Track-Thoroughbreds, and I do a lot of sales."