R.W. MUTCH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP RIDER BIOGRAPHIES
2008 WORKING STUDENT : KAT BARKEMA
Kat and Odie in the USET at Culpeper Kat and Frank Madden at WEF 2008
Kat Barkema is 15 years old and resides in Warrenton, Virginia. Her passion for horses began years before she had her first riding lesson at the age of seven. Kat grew up at the barn watching her older sister ride and wanted nothing more than to begin her own riding career. During her first lesson, Kat begged her instructor to allow her to trot and canter; she was immediately hooked! Kat started riding and working with Kristy Willwerth at Picturesque Farm in Opal, Virginia. Picturesque Farm was a wonderful environment to foster Kat’s love for horses; it provided her with lots of friends and many great opportunities. Kat was able to frequently show a variety of horses and ponies on the local circuit and for clients. From early on, it was clear that Kat had a very competitive personality and loved to horse show. She was dedicated and driven; she was at the farm everyday and was ready to ride anything and everything that she was allowed to get on. She and her sister worked weekends cleaning the barn to contribute to their board and lessons.
When Kat was 12 years old she and her pony moved to TuDane farm in Warrenton, Virginia to train with Jonelle Mullen. Kat’s older sister, Chelsea, had been with TuDane for two years where the family had purchased a Selle Francais gelding named Dolce Vita or, Odie. Kat outgrew her pony and her sister was off to college, therefore the logical progression was for Kat to start riding Odie. After adjusting to her new horse, Kat started showing for the first time at rated shows. She and Odie started in the children’s hunter division and in children’s equitation, where they showed for one year. After the rapid progress the duo made, Jonelle decided that it was time for both Kat and Odie to move up to the 3’6” divisions. The next year, they showed in the large junior hunter division and big equitation medal classes. Together, in one year they qualified and competed in the Virginia Medal Finals, Zone Three Equitation Finals and the USEF/Pessoa Medal Finals. Kat found success in both the hunter and equitation rings but it was evident that both horse and rider found the equitation classes more interesting and challenging. At the beginning of the 2008 show season they began competing strictly in equitation classes.
This past February, Kat was notified that she had been selected as the 2008 Ronnie Mutch Educational Foundation working student scholarship recipient. She traveled to WEF and spent one week training with Alan Korotkin of Castlewood Farm and an additional two weeks training with Frank Madden of Frank Madden Show Stables. This was the experience of a lifetime for Kat.
This year, she hopes to qualify for USEF, USET, WIHS, and Maclay medal finals with Odie.