published Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Shannon Betts' horse 'Remi' riding high

  • photo
    Ooltewah rider-trainer Shannon Betts rides Crimson N Color — also known as “Remi” — in his first Grand Prix dressage competiton last fall in Fayetteville, Tenn.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Yankee Stadium in New York was "the house that Ruth built," based on the home run excitement and fan interest generated by Babe Ruth.

The magnificent Hayes Equestrian Center in Collegedale rightly could be called "the house that Remi built," and the master of that palace, the Half Arabian Half Saddlebred officially known as Crimson N Color, keeps earning his special attention.

"Remi" -- short for Rembrandt -- is the barn name for Crimson N Color, who is wintering in Florida and not unlike Ruth in his day will be back in March for a season beginning in April.

"We built it basically for him," owner Cynthia Hayes said of the facility where she boards other horses belonging to friends. "When we first got Remi we just had this little bitty barn with two stalls, but this place -- you have to see it to believe it. We even have a dressage arena modeled after the Kentucky Horse Park."

After winning three national dressage titles in the fall of 2011 at that arena in Lexington, Ky. -- in Prix St. George and Intermediate 1 and as the all-breeds champion -- Crimson N Color broke his left hind splint bone and did not compete at all in 2012. But he returned in February 2013 at a show in Florida and then won his last Intermediate 1 regional, and Prix St. George honors also, in May at Perry, Ga.

Under rider Shannon Betts of Ooltewah, who has trained him since Hayes bought him as a 3-year-old in Ocala, Fla., Remi then swept to victory in both Intermediate 2 and Grand Prix -- the highest level of dressage -- on Oct. 5 at the Greystone equestrian facility in Fayetteville, Tenn.

That was his first Grand Prix competition, but he proceeded to win at that level again in November at Greystone and later that month at Hernando, Miss. Crimson N Color now is 3-for-3 in Grand Prix shows, and in time for his 13th birthday next month he will be honored in Equestrian magazine as the United States Equestrian Federation Region 12 horse of the year.

Later this year in Lexington he will receive other awards and Betts will be presented a gold medal -- the USEF's highest honor for a rider -- for the three Grand Prix wins in front of separate judges.

"That is really a fantastic accomplishment," Hayes said. "Usually it takes three or four years to get that. They did it in less than two months.

"Shannon has trained him all the way up from putting a saddle on him to everything he's done in dressage."

Crimson N Color was a champion even before Hayes bought him. He won a yearling "in-hand" competition -- being led back and forth -- in Colorado in May 2002, and Hayes acknowledged that he knows he's the king of her state-of-the-art stable.

"He's happy," she said. "All the horses are happy, but Remi's kind of a brat. He instigates things with the other horses.

"But he's extremely well-mannered and always knows how to perform."

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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