Texan Jade Watts Gonzales and the 2008 gelding Fineleehetouchedme (barn name, Elvis), dual-registered with both the American Quarter Horse Association and the and American Paint Horse Association, topped the 2017 WE National Charts at the Intermediate Level. The two won top honors for Intermediate Level horse/rider pair, Elvis was the #1 point earning Intermediate horse in the Nation, and Jade was the #1 point earning American rider competing at the Intermediate level. Truly an impressive year for the two of them!
Jade remembers how she first learned about Working Equitation. “Linda Graham [a fellow Texan] visited Watts Way Arena during a clinic that Jack Lieser was hosting in the Fall of 2012 promoting the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show and advertising Working Equitation. Shortly after this visit, I visited Haras Dos Cavaleiros with my mare, Jewel, for a mini clinic and was intrigued with the sport and amazed at how much the horses enjoyed it.”
“WE challenges a horse and rider in a way that no other horse sport can compare,” Jade reflects. “Dressage will always be a learning journey…’the more you know, you realize how little you really know.’ Memorizing, mapping and incorporating dressage techniques into an obstacle course will always keep a horse and rider fresh. It will be a never-ending field of improvement which will better the horse and rider if one will stay humble and allow it.”
She explains that her journey with Elvis has been one of learning and gaining new skills. “Elvis was purchased by my parents as a 4H Halter champion,” Jade remembers. “When he turned three (just a few months before I learned of WE), it was suggested I ‘start my first horse.’ Due to a full time career and full time Mom duties, at that time I was only able to ride 1-2 times per week. With great pleasure I began starting Elvis very slowly.”
“With less than 10 training rides per month, I was fortunate to have colt starting guidance for a few months from Jack Lieser.”
“Elvis placed in the Top 5 in his very first WE show at Pin Oak in 2013 (with minimal training) as a 4 year old, and I instantly felt how much he enjoyed the sport. Although he is built (as a typical halter horse) very large, heavy, and extremely downhill, he has always given me above and beyond my requests. Elvis has also been very forgiving as I changed tack from Western to learning how to ride dressage just two years ago.”
“Despite his conformation working against him,” Jade admits, “I have always called him my ‘Heart of Gold’. He consistently gives 150% effort regardless of the difficulty or what is asked of him.”
“I could not be more grateful for my many successful competition years with Elvis, as he has competed at a higher level than was believed possible by many due to his conformation. As we begin 2018, we will slow down his training in an effort to keep him strong for many more years to come.”
In addition to Working Equitation, Jade says that she and Elvis enjoy the challenge of jumping and the relaxation of cattle work and simple trail rides. “Jumping at Dos Brisas has always been an adrenaline rush for both Elvis and I!” she says. “He also enjoys moving cows and leisurely hacking around the property.”
In thinking about her WE journey, Jade is very appreciative of the many people who have helped her along the way. “I have been blessed with so many people that have held my hand along this journey,” she says, “and you each know you are in my heart. I would have to give special thanks to my Mom and Dad for offering this horse to me, Tiago Ernesto for many valuable years of learning and training, and Rebecca Algar for always standing by my side and sharing such a wealth of knowledge whenever I needed it the most!