In equestrian sport, schoolmasters are the veterans who excel at their craft, horses who carry along a treasure chest of knowledge and talent. They’re often the ones who help transform good riders into greats, catapulting budding talents from one level in their career to the next.
For 21-year-old Hayley Waters of Ocala, Florida, her developing partnership with the 16-year-old NRPS gelding Uppie de lis (Andiamo x Landsieger I) is only five months in the making, but he has already been just that for her.
The two made a big impression just last week under the grandstand lights in Tryon, North Carolina. On Saturday, May 27th, Waters and Uppie de Lis closed out the May series at the Tryon International Equestrian Center by winning the $50,000 Tryon May IV Grand Prix.
For Uppie Dee, or Señor Upito, as his groom Maurelio affectionately calls him, this isn’t his first rodeo under the grand stand lights. Before joining forces with Waters, he jumped at the 1.60m level with USA’s Andrew Kocher, who once described him as the “most consistent horse.”
Kocher’s partnership with Uppie Dee began in 2014 when the bay gelding left then rider, Sharn Wordley, and was purchased by BTS Entertainment & Sales. Together, Kocher and Uppie Dee competed in the Longines Global Champions Tour and won multiple Grand Prix’s together, including Kocher’s first ever Washington International Horse Show win in the $10,000 International Jumper CSI4*.
“I got him last December, and when I tried him I think I only jumped him over five or six jumps,” said Waters. “My dad loved him and knew about his success with Andy [Kocher]. I was hoping to be competitive with him in the grand prix, and our partnership has been going well so far. I love riding him!”
For the duo, the length of time they’ve spent together doesn’t seem to be a marker of success, as they had a near two second lead over the competition in the jump off.
“He is consistently dependable; he always tries his heart out.”
“My plan for the first round was to ride the course one jump at a time and stick to the plan my trainer Daniel [Damen] and I had talked about when we walked,” said Waters. “I went second in the jump off so I was able to watch and see where Uppie could leave out strides. I was confident going into Saturday night because he had jumped well on Thursday, and I’m happy it all worked out!”
Uppie De went immediately from Tryon to the Devon Horse Show in Devon, Pennsylvania, where he and Waters have taken another step up, and are competing in the CSI4* international jumpers this week.
“I agree [with Kocher], and I think he is consistently dependable; he always tries his heart out,” says Waters. “As a rider, I think that makes it easier to focus on trying to win, and I am lucky to have the opportunity to ride a horse like him.”