Leah Anderson and Her Twenty Dollar Dream Horse Ready to Take on the World
“Things do happen for a reason,” says Lori Anderson when asked about her daughter Leah Anderson’s success with her gelding, Gun Powder N Smoke. Leah and “Scotty” are currently in their second year of showing together. The duo recently began their showing career in March of 2018, but quickly proved hard work, determination, and teamwork could propel anyone to success. At the end of their first summer together, Leah and Scotty walked away from the 2018 AQHYA World Championship Show as the newly crowned Level 2 Horsemanship Champion, however, this team has quite a unique past.
Before Scotty found a home with the Anderson family in Monroe, Washington, he lived across the country in Athens, Georgia, as an equine member of the University of Georgia equestrian team. After a few injuries, the equestrian team decided it was best to find Scotty a home where he could rehab and have a prosperous life. All that was needed was someone to take a chance on Scotty.
Ironically, during that same time, the Andersons were searching for a new horse to partner with Leah through the remainder of her youth career. Leah dreamt of competing nationally at the bigger shows, but she needed a horse to take her there as her current horse was 19 years old and could not compete in the events Leah hoped to compete. The Andersons, however, were working off of a tight budget, so a finished, elite show horse was not realistic.
By chance, Leah’s sister Peyton, who rode on the Georgia equestrian team at the time, mentioned Scotty to Leah’s mother. “She told me, ‘Mom, we have got to take this horse. This horse can be the real deal,’” recalls Lori Anderson.
Leah remembers having a conversation with her sister about Scotty as well, “Peyton did not sell him to me at first because she described him as not knowing much and not sound. My family, of course, was like, ‘Oh an unsound horse – let’s go for it!’ So, we took a chance, and my mom drove all the way out to Georgia to get him.”
When Leah’s mother finally reached Athens, she realized she did not have a checkbook. The team had told the family the cost of the horse for the Andersons would be the drive down from Washington to get him.
“I thought, surely there must be a cost for this horse,” says Lori, “but I only had a twenty-dollar bill on me, since I do not carry a checkbook.” With a twenty-dollar donation fee to the University of Georgia, the Anderson’s purchased Scotty.
For nine months, Leah Anderson rehabbed him back to health on Anderson’s ten-acre property. “The whole time we were rehabbing him, I kept worrying about whether or not he would recover and if I would be able to have him as a pasture horse if it did not work out. He was my one shot. Luckily for me, he did recover.” Once Scotty regained his health, he moved right down the road to AQHA Professional Horsemen Mike and May Edward’s barn.
After a few months of training and hard work, Leah and Scotty competed in their first show together at the Arizona Sun Circuit. “I think when we went to that first show together, Scotty only had about ten AQHA points total. He was pretty green,” says Leah.
Fortunately, the lack of show experience did not hinder this impressive duo as they were able to walk away from their very first show as Level 2 Horsemanship Circuit Champions. But, the accolades did not stop there.
By the end of the summer, Leah and Scotty had become Level 2 Champions at the AQHYA World Show in the Horsemanship. Now, in only their second year of competition together, Leah and Scotty have earned over 120 points in Level 3 Horsemanship alone.
“Horsemanship is my favorite class. I think Scotty would rather do the western riding if he got to pick because he does not like to pick his back up all the time, but he is extremely talented in the horsemanship,” says Leah.
Anderson’s trainer, May Edwards spoke to GoHorseShow about Leah’s story. “Against all of our advice, my clients brought home Scotty. As it turns out, he surprised us all. He proved us all wrong. Scotty has been a fair amount of work, but Leah could show if the arena was on fire. She never gets nervous, and she has been a perfect fit for Scotty. Leah’s parents have done an incredible job of teaching all of their kids the value of the dollar and working hard for what you want. This kid has had to work for it, and there are not a whole lot of kids like Leah anymore. I love kids who are gritty and work hard, and Leah is one of those kids.”
While talking to Leah, she revealed she is a 4.0 student who balances horse shows, practices, school, and sports along with working two jobs. “My time at the barn is my priority for sure. I clean stalls at a local dressage barn, and then I work in retail at a dressage tack store. It is exciting, and I have learned a lot, especially since I do not compete in dressage or hunter-jumper events.”
Leah’s perseverance has not gone unnoticed as she has verbally committed to ride for the University of Georgia Equestrian Team when she graduates high school.
“When I first began looking at colleges, I knew how much I liked Georgia, but I was hesitant because that was the school my sister went to. I did not want people to think I was only going there because of my sister. Then, I realized I did love the campus and the equestrian team. Now, I like to tell people about how my horse is a former Georgia Bulldog, and I am a future Georgia Bulldog. It is a cool dynamic, and it feels like Scotty and I have come full circle together- like it was all meant to be.”
Leah and Scotty are continuing to work hard to follow their dreams. The team will be competing at the 2019 AQHYA World Championship Show in the Level 2/Level 3 halter geldings, horsemanship, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, pleasure, and western riding.
Leah reflects, “We took a chance on a horse nobody wanted. He turned out to be amazing and extremely talented. We get along great, and I am so thankful for him.”
Lori talked to GoHorseShow about what the duo’s story means to her, “We don’t have the means to travel the country or buy these types of horses that have titles, so it is cool to make one on our own. I think our story shows that if it can happen to us, then it can happen to other people. We want others to be as optimistic and hopeful about their showing careers as we were about Scotty.”
CLICK HERE to see this inspirational team in the July issue of GoMag.