Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at email@example.com
Samantha Kline has a vast-and-varied history with horses, including everything from driving Percherons, studying the Arabian breed in Poland and artificial insemination and semen collection at Colorado State, and both participating and in and coaching judging teams.
Now the proud owner of two off-the-track Thoroughbreds, she manages to balance riding two horses and being the Director of Licensed Officials for the United States Equestrian Federation.
By Sarah E. Coleman
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Sam Kline: State College, PA
MSEDA: What brought you to Kentucky?
MSEDA: When I graduated from Michigan State with my Animal Science degree, I applied for a Customer Care position with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). I was offered a job and made the move to Kentucky and have been here ever since.
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
SK: I begged my parents for lessons and they finally got them for me when I was about 10.
MSEDA: What is your background in horses?
SK: I grew up riding hunters mostly, but I also didn't have my own horse or pony, so I found any opportunity to work with new horses. I dabbled in Western riding, broke out babies and even competed on the draft horse circuit with Percherons (and broke some to ride of course. :) ). In college, I took some time off from riding, but was fortunate enough to learn about the Arabian breed and the breeding industry, which is Michigan State's main focus. I studied abroad in Ireland for a semester and did a little bit of eventing while over there. We also did a shorter study abroad in Poland, which focused on the Arabian industry there. When I got back to Michigan, I began an internship at a dressage barn where I competed in my first dressage show. I soon discovered that the older I got, the more I liked it. My senior year of college, I competed on the Michigan State Horse Judging team and had the opportunity to compete at Arabian Nationals and The All-American Quarter Horse Congress. Before I took my job at USEF, I also took a short course at Colorado State in artificial insemination and semen collection.
MSEDA: How long have you been competing?
SK: Probably since I was about 11. Fun fact: I had the best first show ever and took a red and a yellow in some flat classes. I posed for my proud moment to take some pictures with my mare. Turned out, she was deathly afraid of ribbons, so my first show also resulted in a pretty awesome fall as well. :)
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
SK: I was lucky enough to lease my first pony as a Christmas gift when I was 12. She was a white pony named Sugar, show name- Sugar n' Spice (because I was so creative). Every kid should have a feisty white pony named Sugar. :)
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
SK: I have two half-brothers (out of the same Dam). They are OTTBs: Prae (Praetorian) and V (Venture World).
MSEDA: How did you get him/her? My fiance and his family are Thoroughbred breeders. Prae was sitting in a field without a job after about a year off the track. My mother-in-law-to-be suggested I start working with him. One thing led to another and now he's my forever horse. His brother, V, came off the track about 3 years behind Prae and also needed a job, so I started to re-train him. One thing led to another and now he's mine as well.
MSEDA: What horses do you compete (and what do you compete in?)
SK: I attempt to compete both in Dressage. :)
MSEDA: What level do you compete in (if you compete)?
SK: We have worked our way up to training level.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
MSEDA: What are your horse's quirks?
SK: When Prae doesn't want to do something, you can't make him. If you try, you will be exhausted and frustrated, and end up losing. The trick is to somehow make him think it was his idea in the first place. V's spirit animal is some type of lapdog. If he could cuddle up on your lap he would, and chew on everything.
MSEDA: Is there anything unusual about your horses?
SK: I have been told by numerous people that Prae has an overly large tongue. V was off for about a year with a suspected case of stringhalt, he was dubbed a pasture ornament for the rest of his life. Now he's 100 percent sound and going back to work.
MSEDA: What is your favorite show? Why?
SK: The Snowbird series is always fantastic since they are every month, and repetition works best for Prae. I also love Paul Frazier because they offer the TIP awards.
MSEDA: What do you do full-time?
SK: I am the Director of Licensed Officials for the United States Equestrian Federation. I do love my job because I have a passion for the process of horse judging and we have the opportunity to promote fair play and enjoyment in equine competition. I am liaison to one of the largest committees in the organization, and it is truly inspirational to work with such a fantastic group of equine professionals from all different breeds and disciplines. The ability to see so many different areas of the industry work together to accomplish the common goals that we all have in equestrian sport is so motivational.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
SK: Smartpak, Ariat and Trendstep
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
SK: V just came back from a possible career-ending condition, so we are all really excited he is 100 percent sound and going back to work. He has the best personality and shows a ton of potential, so my goal is to focus on him this year and see where we can go. Prae gets to take some competition time off.
MSEDA: Who do you ride with?
SK: Dani Ritter
MSEDA: Where do you ride?
SK: My boys are at Goose Creek.
MSEDA: What is your favorite part of your barn/trainer/boarding stable?
SK: There is really a great group of people at my barn. A good barn family makes everything so much nicer.
MSEDA: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome with your horse?
SK: As I mentioned before, Prae has been a bit of a challenge. He was an extreme hot head when he was younger, sometimes both on an off the farm, that combined with his extreme stubbornness lead to some tough times. There were times when he wouldn't walk in and out without a lead shank, it was hard taking him to a show without numerous helpers because he wouldn't settle or tie or graze...etc. He was constantly on the muscle and he once even got me in the side of the jaw when I was picking his back feet (luckily just a glancing shot). There were even a couple times when I thought I had over-horsed myself this time, and that maybe this wasn't going to work. Now, I tell people my stories and they look over at the horse sleeping in the cross-ties and say, "that horse?" or I get compliments on how good his ground manners are. I can even put kids on his back now. I'm pretty proud of that and how far we've come!
MSEDA: Describe your horse in 10 words.
SK: Prae: A stubborn, accident-prone love of my life, heart horse.
V: A goofy old-soul with baby brains that loves life.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory?
SK: I loved doing hunter paces with my Sugar pony when I was young. My barn did hunter paces growing up. We were of course running late on set-up and it was after dark, but we had a full moon and we needed to run the course to get time. I went out with my trainer and we ran that course right along with a horse twice her size. I don't think we chipped or took any fence long that night, it was a perfect ride and we were completely in sync. (The next day we rode and had a fall at the first fence. Typical. But I had a great ride that night before!)
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
SK: We have a cat rescue named Julep, she was a party favor from a friend.