A Letter To Waldo From Sam Walker

Written by Sam Walker

Dear Waldo,

The day that I met you, I really didn’t know what to think. I thought that you were a little bit of an odd looking horse when you were pulled out of your stall, but for some reason I had a good feeling. I remember our first lesson together – it was not the prettiest thing in the world but my dad and Missy (Clark) both had confidence that maybe one day you could turn out to be the superstar that you are.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2019 WIHS Equitation Finals 

If I am being perfectly honest, I didn’t know what to think when I first rode you. I couldn’t understand why you stuck your tongue out, which you still do to this day, but you had it out and your ears were forward! You definitely wouldn’t have been my very first choice the first day I sat on you, buddy, but I have to say, as time went on and as when we progressed together and my riding ability improved and your rideability improved, we definitely found that bond together. Now I know that when your tongue is out, it is going to be a really good day, so even though everybody notices, I think that you should keep doing it. It’s a true testament to who you are – You are very much yourself all the time!

The process of building a partnership with you was definitely a little bit challenging at the start. It’s always a process and over the first few months that we were together I really could start to feel that great things had the potential to happen between us, but only time would tell. 

The first time that we showed together I actually felt us “click”. That was the very first time that I stepped foot in the equitation ring and felt truly confident that I could win a class, and it was all because of you. You made me feel like I was a good rider and like I could do just about anything. From that moment on, I was really just praying that you wouldn’t get sold and that we could stay together for the rest of our career.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2020 Dover Saddlery / USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals

I remember when we went to Devon for the first time, our first major show together. I had only shown you a couple times in Wellington before that and Devon was always a big deal for us equitation kids. Our first class was actually not good at all, but after that, we killed it and I had my first few top placings at Devon! Then we went to the equitation finals our very first year together and took top three in the two out of the three finals that we competed in – what a feeling!

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2017 Dover Saddlery / USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals

In 2017, it was my very first time going in the ring at Harrisburg and your very first time going in any big finals. Nobody really knew who we were, but I had a good feeling that day and I remember walking out after the first round and just expressing to you how grateful I was to have you as my partner. We ended up top three that day, which really made a statement in the equitation community because we were kind of the small town boys with both of us coming out of nowhere and taking a podium finish. We did the same at the next show and from that moment on, I knew that we were going to be successful together.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2018 ASPCA Maclay National Championships

My favorite big win moment with you was at Maclay finals in 2018. I remember that finals season we had good results, but we were hungry for a win. I think that I had been trying too hard at the other finals and just needed to let you do your job, so that’s exactly what I did at Maclay finals, and that day we came out on top. It’s a day that I’ll never forget. It meant a lot to me and it probably meant a lot to you, Waldo, but it definitely contributed a lot to my career and for that I’m extremely grateful.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the Winter Equestrian Festival’s 2019 George Morris Equitation Championship

If I’m being totally honest, Waldo, throughout my junior years with you, you were always on my team and you were always there to play ball. I can’t think of a time where you ever let me down in any way, shape or form. You showed up to the plate at every final, every show we did, and in pretty much every way possible each time I rode you. The only time something would go wrong was because I made a mistake, and that’s why I think that you are truly the perfect horse.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2020 Dover Saddlery / USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals

In the future, I’d like to see you at finals with your next rider, doing well as you always do. I think that every equitation horse matches with specific riders and I think my bond with you was just a matter of it being a perfect match, which I know is mostly luck. I really believe that we had something very special together, and I’d love to see that recreated with someone else. You don’t owe anybody anything, but it would be great to see you continue your success for the next couple of years, and then whenever you want to retire, you let us know. I hope you get to go into a big pasture at that point and just be a horse. I know you already get treated very, very well because you are such a good horse, but I hope that whenever you do retire, you go out of the sport naturally and healthy – I know you will let us know when that time comes.

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2019 WIHS Equitation Finals 

Maybe I am biased, but I really believe that you are one of the best equitation horses in the country. You are so careful and steady at all times, and that alone is amazing. It is very rare that you have a rail or put a foot wrong. You always have the best attitude and seem like the happiest horse in the ring, and I think that’s exactly where you belong: in the show ring, because that’s where you shine.

Waldo, thank you so much for making my junior career unforgettable and for making me believe that I could do anything. Thank you so much for always being there for me and being my most consistent partner and my best friend.

From, Sam 

Sam Walker and Waldo at the 2019 WIHS Equitation Finals 
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