At the internationally competitive 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, sponsor Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals likes to reward those horses and riders who best exemplify excellent horse health with the Omega Alpha Healthy Horse Award. The latest recipient is an up-and-coming Grand Prix dressage horse and rider who have a truly inspiring story.
Cartier, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, started (and luckily failed) his first job as an Amish cart horse. Sent to auction, he was noticed as a horse with potential in another discipline. At that time, Robbie Rice was looking for a dressage horse for Debbie Hill. “He was kind of out in the middle of nowhere in Florida. Debbie saw a video of him online,” Rice recalled. “He hadn’t been shown and he hadn’t done much. He jumped a little bit, and he schooled some cross-country.”
With his new home, they decided he needed a new name. They decided on Cartier. “It was a C-year, and we were trying to come up with a name, and I said, ‘What about Cartier, it has cart in it!’” Rice said. “It’s so perfect, because he is the classic diamond in the rough.”
Hill and Rice brought Cartier to Huntsville, Ala. where Hill operates Debbie Hill Dressage. A few months after Cartier was purchased in 2014, Hill was diagnosed with breast cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy, she continued to work with Cartier as much as she could. “I just sort of took it easy with him. He’s a special horse,” she recalled.
Then, in May 2017, she got great news — she reached the three-year survival mark since her initial diagnosis, and doctors gave her the all clear.
Hill debuted Cartier in his first Grand Prix CDI3* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this year. In his most recent outing, he scored a 60.696 percent in the Grand Prix and also a 65.175 percent in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Hill’s goals for the rest of the season are to just see how things go.
“I just want him to be relaxed and happy,” she said, adding that Cartier’s best trait is that he is so eager to learn and eager to please.
Omega Alpha is also recognizing barn managers who provide exceptional care and nutrition to keep horses in top shape. To nominate a barn manager who deserves recognition, look for the Omega Alpha Best Barn Manager of the Season ballot boxes at the Winter Equestrian Festival show office or fill out a nomination form online at www.omegaalphacontest.com.
Learn more at www.omegaalphainc.com.