Farm Horizons, August 2009

Winsted woman trains for world title in Oklahoma horse competition

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

There isn’t much that Brittany Kuck of Winsted doesn’t know about horses.

The 2007 Watertown-Mayer graduate has liked the animals as far back as she can remember and has taken advantage of every opportunity to be around them.

After years of riding and training horses, she has now set her sights on winning a world title in the saddle seat competition at the grand national and world championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma October 2010.

Saddle seat is Kuck’s favorite riding style for competitions. The discipline is designed to show off the high trotting action of certain horse breeds while their heads are held high, according to Kuck. The other three riding styles at horse shows are hunt, western, and dressage.

Winning in horse show competitions is not new to Kuck, whose Morgan horse, Jazz, has won region Horse Of The Year six times within three years.

“I was surprised when we first got Horse Of The Year because I do it all on my own. I am not in a big barn,” Kuck said. “Horse shows are very competitive. If you are not in a big barn, you hardly get looked at. So when I started winning, it was a big deal. I took reserve in amateur hunter pleasure and took champion in the open hunter division for trainers.”

Kuck won reserve and champion in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

This past year, Kuck has taken time off from competitions, as she trains her 3-year-old Morgan, Ava.

Ava was picked out of four fillies from a breeder with a stallion that Kuck had seen advertised in magazines.

That was all she needed to drive to Zimmerman to look at the Morgan filly.

“She was very pretty and I liked her because she was coal black and there aren’t a lot of black horses in the Morgans. She has really long legs and a long neck and she was very sweet.”

Kuck bought her filly with her own money. Ava is Kuck’s third horse, and the second one she has competed with.

Ava’s training began as a 1-year-old.

Now, with two years of training behind her, Ava has gone from a sweet filly to a 3-year-old with an attitude, according to Kuck.

“She is in a show barn around other show horses, all the time,” Kuck said. “It is kind of sad in the horse show world because they don’t get to be real horses. They don’t go outside in the pasture. They stay in their stalls and are in training all year round,” Kuck said.

Kuck is hoping that by next year, Ava will be completely trained. She has already been shown in a few competitions to get her used to the ring and people, and familiar with being hauled in and out of a trailer.

“If she takes the world title next October, I will bring her home and let her be a horse,” Kuck said. “Let her run.”

Ava has been staying at the Marlett stables in Prior Lake and is being trained with the help of Andy Marlett, who has 30 years experience training horses. Kuck visits Ava once a week.

“You start training them when they are young so you can get them controlled because if you left a horse be wild for five or six years, they are so big they could really hurt you,” Kuck said.

A horse doesn’t stop growing until they are 5 or 6 years old, and they usually need to continue their training until that age, according to Kuck.

Kuck likes training horses, with the reward of showing the horse.

“I love showing and it makes the training and giving up so much stuff worth it,” Kuck said.

Although she has never regretted the time she has spent with her horses, Kuck had to give up playing sports when she was in high school and she said she missed much of her senior year because she was always at shows.

“I used to go all over the place throughout the five-state area,” Kuck said. “You could go to a show every weekend if you wanted to. The shows are four- to five-day shows, so by the time you get back, you are packing for the next one.

Following her high school graduation, she also stayed home for two years while attending college at Ridgewater because she wanted to train with her horses all year round.

Hard work is nothing new to Kuck, who attended Ridgewater College in the morning, trained her horses in the afternoon, then worked at night to pay for them.

This fall she will start school at Southwest State in Marshall as a junior. She will major in special ed, and would like to work with autistic children.

But Kuck has said she will “never give up her horses.” All of her friends her age that she used to show with, ride with and train with have given up horses and moved on with other things in their lives, but Kuck sees her horses far into her future.

In fact, Kuck’s mother, Jan Kuck, who was not very enthusiastic about Brittany’s interest in horses at first, is considering raising horses with her daughter’s help after Brittany graduates from college.

Jan started taking Brittany for riding lessons when she was 7 because she had seen how much Brittany loved horses and how she took every opportunity to be around them.

“Mom drove me to Buffalo and sat in the car and would wait for me while I had my lessons. Mom was not into it at all. She did not want me to have horses,” Brittany said.

With many riding lessons behind her, and “after many years of begging for a horse,” when Brittany was in seventh grade, her dad, Glenn Kuck, bought Brittany a quarter horse named Chico.

After stabling Chico at the Living Legends farm in Winsted, close by her home, Brittany was introduced to the Morgan horse.

“There were 35 Morgans there, and I got to ride a lot of them,” Kuck said. “Once they let me ride the Morgans, I was hooked.

That was where she met Jazz.

“The person who owned the barn did not want to sell Jazz so she just kind of let me ride and show him,” Kuck said. “I was looking for another horse to buy and I always compared all of the other horses to Jazz.”

When the Living Legends farm moved to Colorado, Brittany’s parents were able to purchase Jazz for her after she had been showing him for two years.

One of the reasons Brittany enjoys working with horses is because they are unpredictable. “They think for themselves and that makes it a lot more of a challenge,” Brittany said.

“You have to improve not only your abilities, but the horse’s abilities and you have to improve as a team.” Brittany said.

Although Brittany likes her Morgan horses, which can live to be 30 years old, she has started taking lessons on another breed, called saddle bred which is known to do well in the saddle seat discipline.

“They are a lot of fun. They are the true English pleasure saddle seat horse. I take lessons on them now to improve my saddle seat,” Kuck said. “It will probably be my next horse.”

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