Ocala, FL – This week’s Ocala Sunday Spotlight shines Danash’s Northern Tempest, a nine-year-old Leopard Appaloosa Friesian cross mare owned by Laura Reece. Some may know the striking patterned mare as Dani the Wonder Horse™, named the ‘BreyerFest 2021 Celebration Horse’ of the theme – A Horse of a Different Color. We caught up with owner Laura Reece and rider Emily Schafer to learn more about a special horse that is bringing a splash of color into the hunter and equitation ring.
WEC: Tell us the story about how you came across Dani.
Laura Reece: We found Dani in Florida about six years ago, she was a 4-year-old. She had low level dressage training. She was pretty green, didn’t know her lead changes, but had a really easygoing personality. My trainer Ashley Glica of ATG Equestrian, rode her first and knew we would be a great fit. We were looking for something amateur friendly that I could grow with, and she’s proven to be that and more.
We’ve put a lot of time and hard work into her, just helping her grow as a horse. We focused on building muscle and moving from behind. She now has weekly dressage training, but loves jumping. She’s more of a 2’6”, 2’9” horse. She likes to jump, and she likes to go fast!
WEC: What do you and Emily like to compete in with Dani?
Laura Reece: I like showing in the flat classes and doing the 2’ USHJA divisions. She’s bomb proof, which is amazing because she’s a safe animal for me, but I knew she had more potential, so I wanted to find a younger rider who could bring that talent out of her. Emily rides Dani better than anyone.
Emily Schafer: I have been riding Dani for almost a year now. I’ve done a bit of everything; hunters and equitation. I am personally a jumper fan, so when my trainer Ashley asked me to ride her, I was a little skeptical, because I wasn’t sure if I could get back into the hunters and eq, but as soon as I got on her, I fell in love. She goes like a hunter, but has a carrying pace, so you don’t feel like you’re crawling around.
Currently, I have been showing in the Low Adult Equitation and in a few 2’6” derbies. Last November, we were the USHJA Zone 4 Champion in the Children’s Hunter 15-17 and just a few months ago we were Champion in the Low Adult Equitation in Wellington.
WEC: Tell us about how Dani was chosen to be the staple piece of BreyerFest in 2021.
Laura Reece: Years ago, I contacted Chronicle of the Horse with her story, they picked it up and published it. Breyer read it and had BreyerFest coming up with the theme ‘A Horse of a Different Color’ and asked if we would be interested in participating. Of course, we said yes! We had to keep it a secret for a year.
They produced a magnificent model of her. It looks exactly like her; they got every detail to the snowflake on her head to the stripes are her hooves. We went to Kentucky and exhibited her in the stadium. It was amazing and an incredible experience for everybody involved. We signed models, a bible and kid toys.
Everyone was so happy to meet Dani. We were so fortunate she’s so well behaved, because everyone wanted to come up and pet her, but you could tell she just loved the attention.
Now when we go to horse shows, you will hear little kids shout, “Look it’s Dani the Wonder Horse™!” It’s such an amazing feeling to know that she is loved and appreciated by so many people. I am so grateful to have her, and I can’t wait to see her continue to grow in the future.
WEC: What does at day at home look like for Dani?
Laura Reece: She loves her turnout. So, she will go out for most of the morning before it gets too hot. She’ll then come in and get worked. For the rest of the day, she relaxes in her stall, but demands attention from everyone that passes her.
Emily Schafer: Her stall is right next to the tack room, so whenever you come in and out, she sticks out her head to greet everyone and ask for treats. She loves cuddles and having all eyes on her.
WEC: How has your experience been at World Equestrian Center?
Laura Reece: Coming to WEC is an amazing experience. We brought Dani here for a Breyer event and knew we had to come show. The facility is state-of-the-art. We love the indoors with the air-conditioning, especially in the Summer. Everyone here is so friendly and welcoming. We can’t wait to come back!
Thank you, Laura and Emily taking time to chat with us about Dani The Wonder Horse™! We are looking forward to continuing to watch her shine bright in the hunter and equitation rings!