Exclusive Interview: How Katha Gatto of Shadow Creek NY LLC Picks Her Next Top Horse?

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Exclusive Interview: How Katha Gatto of Shadow Creek NY LLC Picks Her Next Top Horse?

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Jan. 27,2020
ProEquest

Shadow Creek NY LLC - We are a boutique equestrian broker committed to providing our clients with their perfect partner. As a company, we understand how difficult it can be as an amateur rider, parent, or trainer to navigate the landscape of sale horses. We breed, train, import, and campaign horses that are specifically chosen for the US market, resulting in successful sales and partnerships stateside. Let us help you find your next superstar.

Katha Gatto and Jackson 5, Young Hunters at WEF. Photo Credit Sportfot

Katha Gatto and Jackson 5, Young Hunters at WEF. Photo Credit Sportfot

PE - What characteristics must the horse have in order for you to consider purchasing? 

First of all it is important to note that we are primarily in the business of selling horses for the junior or amateur job. While searching for horses for resale we must always keeping this in mind. We always hope as everyone does to be able to improve our horses through a correct program and training. But we like to ask the question, “If I we cannot change anything about this horse is it good enough right now to sell to one of our customers?” If the answer is yes that we feel like that’s a pretty good safety net to at least make our money back on our investment. Most of the time of course we are able to refine the horse’s skill, experience, or overall condition, and in doing so add value to the horse.

Of course, there are many qualities we are looking for in an investment horse, but the following 2 are perhaps the most important. That is to say, they are deal breakers, without these qualities the others doesn't really matter. The 1st, and most important is their brain. For amateurs and children, the importance of a horse’s character cannot be understated.  For me, selling mainly to amateurs, it is crucial to have a horse that has a level head on his shoulders. A good horse is one that not only has self preservation but also is a kind and willing participant. A horse that is looking for an excuse to misbehave is not going to workout very long for an amateur rider because they will give them plenty of opportunities to do so. They need to want to do the right thing, which in my case is to jump the jumps when given the chance. If a horse stops or needs to be ridden very strongly to a jump the first time, it is not a horse I will purchase. Secondly is the quality of their gates. This is not to say we only buy 10 mover. There’s not too many of those around. However any horse for an amateur needs to be a pleasure to ride, so comfortable gates are a must-have. I don't go hunting for the greatest moving horses of all time or horses that jump out of their skin, but a good quality canter with a proper balance is key. This makes for a more enjoyable ride for my clients as well.

 

PE -  Do you have a specific type of horse that you prefer or that you've found to have the most success with? Perhaps they don't move as well but have an incredible jump or vice versa. 

I feel like a broken record here but a horse with a good brain is the most attractive to me. The market for horses without amateur proof brains is very is a tough sell and something we try to avoid. I have found that I gravitate more towards better jumpers over better movers. When I said I care about a great canter, that's not saying the daisy cutter, hack winning canter is what I want. It's about an athletic feel and a lightness to the gait that attracts me no matter if the horse is a hunter or a jumper. A horse with a natural balance and canter will also most often have a nice natural lead change is very important to me as well. Over the years I have found myself buying more and more Belgian bred horses. I think they have a natural athleticism to them that I really find worth investing in.

Garrett Warner and Catch The Dark Z (2011 Stallion by Catoki x Chellano Z) in the $10k Welcome Grand Prix at SFHJA charity show. Photo Credit Anne Gittins

Garrett Warner and Catch The Dark Z (2011 Stallion by Catoki x Chellano Z) in the $10k Welcome Grand Prix at SFHJA charity show. Photo Credit Anne Gittins
 

PE - Do you try to stay within a specific age range when trying horses? 

I used to buy many young horses, but its a big investment and it is a risk not knowing what the future will bring. When I go on a shopping trip to import horses to sell, I try to stay between the ages of 5 to 12. This age range is the easiest to have a quick turnover which is important in business. Obviously, a horse that is that has more extensive show experience will sell faster and more easily than one that needs to be brought along. I like to look at the horse and know what it is now rather than guess what it will be. If I am buying a 5/6yo I want to find a horse that has done enough to show that he/she has a good foundation and proves to have a good mentality, especially away from home.

 

PE - Do you think the horses physical capability or mental attitude are more important?

I would take a horse with a good mental attitude that has the scope to jump 1.20m over a horse with all the scope in the world but one that doesn't want to do the job. But that’s specific to my business, mainly looking for horses to suit amateurs.

 

PE - What are some of the questions that you ask the horses previous owners or whoever you are purchasing the horse from?

I am very fortunate to have worked with the same agent in Belgium for many years. He does a great deal of due diligence for me before I try the horses.  I believe a huge part of my success has to do with working with people I trust and respect as horsemen and businessmen. I like to know what the horse has done, obviously, but I also like to know who has been riding the horse. For example, how I try/judge a horse that's been in a top professional training program versus a horse that's been ridden at home by a family is very different. You don't always get to try the horse where he/she actually lives so it's important to know what the horse's normal program is. I like to see show videos as well as any medical records, previous x-rays, etc. I also like to ask whoever owns the horse when I try it to give me some background about the horse before it came to them, to the best of their knowledge. Nowadays, with the internet, it's so easy to gain a lot of information on a horse before you see it. I think its important to do this and come up with questions regarding the horses, for example, if there's a gap in the record or a period of time when the horse was less successful, why that might be.

 

PE - Do you prefer to bring along a green horse yourself or a horse that already has experience and training? 

I prefer a horse that already has experience and training. For me, there is less risk but there is for sure also not a lot of room for potential so its a double edge sword. I think when buying horses for the american amateur market, having horses with more experience, even if it's not in the exact job it will do here, really gives you an idea of exactly what the horse is and how to best help him/her succeed.

Garrett Warner and Katha Gatto with Cariko 3 (winner of the 1.30m speed at WEF 2 with Garrett in the irons)

Garrett Warner and Katha Gatto with Cariko 3 (winner of the 1.30m speed at WEF 2 with Garrett in the irons)

A special thank you to Katha Gatto of Shadow Creek NY LLC for taking the time to answer our questions and share some of her insights into the equestrian world. To see the current horses that Shadow Creek NY LLC has listed for sale be sure to visit their ProEquest profile!

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