A woman with roots in the West River Valley received a top honor in the horse show world and credited Vermont with providing her with a foundation in horse education.
Allie Gee of Lake Jackson, Texas, who grew up in Newfane, was the world champion in her division in the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show this month in Oklahoma City. The show is the highest level competition available for Morgan horses, a specific breed established in Vermont.
Gee competed in dressage, which she compared to ballet with horses. It includes extensions and pirouettes.
“It’s very technical and riders go through a prescribed set of movements,” Gee said. “Each movement is scored between 1 and 10 separately then given a total score at the end. It’s ridden from memory and it ends up being about six minutes of ride time in front of the judge.”
Her score was 64 percent, which is considered very high. Gee said she was “really happy” and “very proud,” and she also found some beauty in the fact that she did well at the same show about 10 years ago as a junior rider.
As a teenager, Gee worked at River Bend Farm in Townshend “mucking stalls” in exchange for a horse named Holly, who was 2 years old at the time and just competed in the big show.
“We grew up together in the valley,” she said.
Gee trained with Holly at West River Stables in Brookline, Winchester Stables in Newfane and Friesians of Majesty in Townshend. The horse went with Gee in 2011 when she moved to go to college in Lynchburg, Va.
Gee took a break from competing while in school but continued training. She moved to Texas and returned to the show ring in 2017, this time as an adult amateur rider.
Gee has decided to retire Holly while on top of the competition. They will still ride but with a focus on trails and having fun instead of contests. They have ridden in competitions 49 times.
To prepare for the last show, they trained five days a week. The horse stayed at a training facility, which involved a three-hour round trip for Gee. Now, Holly will be closer.
Gee said a lot of shows led up to qualifying for the major competition. She gave a nod to Vermont, where she learned a lot by training in local facilities. She also participated in the 4-H program through the University of Vermont Extension.