On Monday, 31-year-old American eventer Katie Ruppel learned that she and her 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Houdini, were accepted as entries in one of the toughest and most prestigious events in the world: the Badminton Horse Trials CCI4*. In response, Katie penned this heartfelt letter to a horse that has challenged her nearly every day of their 11-year partnership, but is irreplaceable in her life. 

Dear Houdini,

When I first met you 11 years ago, my only thought was: “He will do”.

You weren’t breathtaking. You didn’t ooze confidence or class. You were a flop of a racehorse
with a weird attitude that didn’t have a pedigree. You were a tall rangy three year old, wet
behind the ears, with a nice neck and a fat hind leg.

But I liked your walk. And I liked your eye. And I thought that you would do.

And my god, you have done.

You have been a struggle to maintain your entire life. Taking lessons on you is pointless and a
waste of time and money because you are insane. You can clear out a warmup arena faster
than you can say Jack Robinson. You have a pipe cleaner tail that is famous throughout the
world. You make demands of me every day that I would never oblige for any other horse. Our
entire stable and program is arranged in such a way so that you can be happy. But for all the
things you are not, there is one thing that you are — you are a winner.

You have launched my career. You have shaped me as a rider and a human being. You have
taught me to be a gracious loser and a humble winner. You have taken me to places in the
world that I could have never gone without you. You have paid bills, put food on the table and
built my farm with the prize money that you have won. I am thankful every day to see your face
and have the privilege of feeding you one hundred cookies and scratching your itchy spot.

Our journey is not over. We are heading into our greatest challenge yet. The first week in May, a few
lucky event riders’ dreams will come true as they canter down the centerline of the hallowed
ground that is Badminton Horse Trials, the most exclusive and prestigious three day event in the
entire world.

Houdini… you will do.

Do you have a letter to your horse that you’d like to share? Send your thoughts to [email protected] and it may be selected for publication on Noelle Floyd Style!

Photos by Shannon Brinkman, courtesy of Katie Ruppel.