From eventing star in her younger years to dressage packer at 33, Olney Zoe has had one stellar career. Bred by Ami Howard of Olney Farm in Joppa, the Trakehner/Thoroughbred cross was a fifth generation mare through the Olney Farm breeding program. Born on April 29, 1983, Zoe was by the Trakehner stallion Zauberklang and out of the Thoroughbred mare Amanda.
Zoe was shown in hand at Dressage at Devon as a yearling, she was eighth out of nearly 50 entries. As a six-year-old, she earned the title of Best in Show at the Maryland Dressage Association’s Breed Show.
Ami started Zoe’s eventing career and earned a few titles and trophies through the Maryland Combined Training Association. They moved up the levels until Zoe’s talent exceeded Ami’s expertise. Ami called on her coach Gayle Molander to take over the ride and in 2000, Zoe was named U.S. Eventing Association’s Mare of the Year. “She had done a few Intermediates when I first got the ride but I started her back at Preliminary and the moved up from there fairly quickly,” Gayle explained.
“She was just an incredible horse,” Gayle said. “Smart and very talented.” Gayle went on to remark that Zoe was a bit on the tense side in the dressage phase but was a cross-country machine. “She was a dream on cross-country! I’d just point and she would jump.”
Molander competed Zoe through the Advanced levels and was slated to compete in the CCI3* at Fair Hill International when the mare fractured a knee on course at Morven Park. “The fall was a complete miss-read on Zoe’s part which was the sad part of it all,” Gayle stated explaining that shadows across the water made it seem like they would land on flat ground and not water. “Her knees just buckled and she went down.”
Ami’s veterinarian felt Zoe would only be pasture sound after the accident and although Ami tried breeding her several times, she just never got pregnant. Zoe spent the next decade as a retired pasture companion to other residents of Olney Farm. Until… about three years ago when Ami noticed Zoe doing an extended trot across the pasture. Ami started her under saddle again and just “putzed around the trails” with some casual ring work mixed in every now and then.
In May of 2019, Ami was chatting with Ann Yellott and her daughter Andie about the Century Club rides. The program is for horses and riders whose combined age is 100 or more. Members must ride a dressage test to complete their Century Ride. Ami entered on Zoe with a combined age of 120!
“We did our ride here at Olney Farm at a combined test in a dressage only class,” Ami said. “I’m not sure Zoe was thrilled at returning to competition but I had a blast!” The pair won their class!
Olney Zoe passed away on January 27, 2020 and Ami’s family and friends purchased the March 2020 Equiery cover as a tribute to such a fantastic Maryland-bred.