Daphne Bytnar’s Having Double the Fun
He’s an amateur’s dream horse – a winner in the ring, and a pet outside the ring. Read about the UK’s newest hunter superstar and one of HH’s favorite horses, Double Down.
By HH Contributor Kristina McCombie
HH: Tell us about your horse, Double.
DB: Double Down is an eight-year-old Polish warmblood. My husband is also Polish so he fits right in. We call him Double around the barn or Double D. When we are together we are affectionately referred to as “Double Trouble.”
HH: How long have you and Double been a team? How did you find each other?
DB: I purchased double 2 1/2 years ago from Karla Rothmann of Rothmann horses in Germany. I was introduced to Karla by my childhood trainer, Constance Hunt. I originally went to Germany look at a different horse who did not work out. I returned to the states and vetted several more horses over the next couple months. But Karla never stop looking for my unicorn. She started sending me videos of Double as a stallion. Not just your typical performance sales videos, but he was galloping through fields and trail riding to lunch. I was not interested in purchasing a stallion and Karla decided to geld him. She really wanted me to have him but after several failed vettings and an overseas trip, I didn’t want to spend more money on another trip Germany to try him. I trusted Karla and she had seen me ride. She knew he was the right horse for me so I bought him sight unseen. Huge risks have huge rewards.
HH: What do you currently show in?
DB: Michael just moved him up to the 3’3” performance hunters in Thermal. I just moved up to the 3’3” AOs two weeks ago. We had a few growing pains but he is very forgiving with my mistakes.
HH: What makes Double such a great addition to your barn?
DB: He is the most consistent unwavering equine partner I could ask for. He always has a pleasant expression and is very easy to work with. We call him our gentle giant. Not only does he win derbies, he takes my seven-year-old daughter on bareback pony rides.
HH: Does Double have any quirks or goofy traits? How is he around the barn?
DB: He is very consistent and unflappable generally, but when he decides something is scary he can turn into a total dork. He loves our play time in the indoor. I call it our bonding time. He gets to be free but still work with me on the ground. I can say “ready set go” and he will take off from a stand still at a dead run and let out the biggest bucks. I am very happy that he never lets those out when I am in the saddle. He also likes to knock all the jumps down. When he’s not in tack, he thinks they should be scratching posts.
HH: What are your goals for the rest of the year and beyond with Double ?
DB: We achieved one a few weeks ago which was to return to the AO ring…I had had a 13 year hiatus. There was only the 3’6” height back the and I would like to end up there again with Double. However, we have a little change coming up. My family just moved to London for a year and a half and Double joined us. Therefore, my goal is to have fun in the jumper ring while I’m there. I will stay low and go slow.
HH: What successes have you shared with Double? Anything in particular you are especially proud of?
DB: I’m a typical mother, I’m proud of everything he does. He came to me with very little jumping experience so I loved seeing every step of progress along the way. But most notably we were grand circuit champion in the Adult Amateur hunters at HITS Thermal this winter. And he just won the National Derby at Spring in the Rockies II. It was such a wonderful send off for our last Colorado show. I was crying before he even jumped his last jump. I’m just so thrilled that he’s mine.
HH: What do you enjoy most about riding Double?
DB: I love everything about riding Double. My two previous horses had been off the track Thoroughbreds. I told my husband this time I wanted a horse bred to jump, not to run. They make fun of me at the barn because I am the slowest to tack up, but I like him to look show ready even if I’m just going for a bareback ride.
HH: If Double was a teenager, which table would he sit at in the cafeteria and why?
DB: He would be the most handsome jock at the athlete table.
HH: What are Double’s favorite treats?
DB: He enjoys his carrots but I make him work for them. He can bow and fold himself in half. His flexibility can make him hard to ride but also really fun. He also can make applesauce in a matter of seconds with his apples. (And I love to experiment and feed him things that I’m eating. Most notably he really likes strawberries and Fritos!)