I first fell in love with Andalusian horses in the early 1980s while attending a semester of college in southern Spain. They were the most beautiful horses I had ever seen, and I was amazed at how well mannered they were as they carried riders through the crowded streets at the Fiestas in Jerez and Sevilla. I dreamed of having one of my own someday.
While in Mexico in the late 1980s I also had the opportunity to visit the Bardahl and Domecq ranches while on rounds with Veterinarian, Dr. Alberto Rojas. I even had the chance to ride the beautiful horse that appeared in the Kevin Costner movie “Revenge.” I ran into Dr. Rojas again recently at the PRE Celebration in Las Vegas – it was great to see him again after nearly 20 years!
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1995, I started attending the annual Festival of the Andalusian shows in Puyallup. I bought my first horse in 97, but as a single mother at the time, my budget would only allow a Thoroughbred. As a novice rider, this mare turned out to be too much for me and seriously challenged my confidence. Although we never seemed to really get along, I was devastated when we couldn’t save her from a bad bout of colic 2 years later. I vowed at that time that I wouldn’t buy another horse until I could afford an Andalusian.
In late 2000, with the help of Nia Ridley, I found an affordable 2 year old filly. As she wasn’t yet registered with IALHA, I named her Teodora, after my late father. I was so happy when she reached her 3rd birthday and I could start riding her – we even celebrated with carrot cake and a party!
Taking Dressage lessons once a week, I was eventually able to start competing with Teodora in Training and First Level Dressage, and entering her in the NWAHA shows. She and I both also loved riding out on the trails near our home in Maple Valley, Washington.
In 2004 I married David DeVito, the love of my life (in human form). He offered to take me on my dream vacation for our honeymoon – a riding vacation in Spain! In May 2005 we trained with Juan Matute (Spanish Olympic rider), and rode out in the countryside on some very beautiful horses. We were especially enamored with a young 4 year old stallion whose incredible temperament and breathtaking movement were mesmerizing. As it turned out, he was for sale….
Since both David and I had recently sold our houses and bought a new one together, we had a little cash in the bank, so in August 2005, Bandolero CLXXVI arrived in Washington and we formed Emerald Ridge Andalusians. Through Carol Lynn McArdle, we bred Teodora to Roberta Brittingham’s Victorioso V, and Bandolero became my principle riding horse.
Bando, as we call him, is of the Leviton line, which is known for producing incredible temperament and movement (the Olympic Dressage horse, Evento, is also of this line). Still, we are constantly amazed at how level headed he is when we go to shows and even out on the trail with mares.
When I first purchased Bandolero, I was so surprised at how incredible he was to ride, I thought everyone should be able to have one like him! With that in mind, we started breeding him in 2007, and it is evident that he consistently passes on his fabulous temperament and breathtaking movement. Be sure to browse through the foals page for pictures and updates!