By: Brittany Bevis
November 11th, Veterans Day, has dual meaning for many Americans. The date marks the formal conclusion of World War I, which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The holiday itself honors those selfless members of the armed forces who place their lives on the line in service for our country, to protect our basic freedoms, and to preserve our way of life. Veterans Day also happens to fall during the APHA World Show.
Ironically, this Veterans Day will mark another special occasion for one APHA member, Dominic DeStefano. Next week will be the US Navy pilot’s World Show debut.
“This will be my first World Show as an owner, not a competitor,” DeStefano says. “My busy schedule doesn’t allow me the time to practice and show, maybe someday.”
Although he won’t be competing himself, DeStefano will be taking a little break from being on active duty to watch his horse trainer, Mason Lyon, pilot his 2010 gray overo stallion, I Got Em Talkin, in 3-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle futurities and Junior Pleasure Driving.
“I met my trainer, Mason Lyon, at last year’s Pinto World Show via a mutual friend and decided to start the search for a horse,” he says. “We bought Buzz a few months later at the 2012 AjPHA World Show from Deb Jarvis. He is by her stallion, I Got Charisma, and out of a mare Mason used to own, Fight Over Emmie. She is the dam of Reserve AQHA Super Horse, Dirty Sexy Money, who Mason bred and raised. We knew Buzz wouldn’t be ready in time to show at the 2012 Paint Worlds, so we set our goals on 2013.”
This year, DeStefano was lucky enough to make it to a few local horse shows to cheer on his stallion. However, due to his demanding day job as a pilot, he isn’t always able to attend. DeStefano is a Lieutenant in the US Navy, and he is currently based out of Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City.
“My duties in the military include being a pilot of an E-6B, a large four-engine 707-type aircraft that’s in charge of the nation’s Nuclear Command and Control,” he says. “Also, I must be a leader and mentor to Navy enlisted sailors. I get very little time home due to the fact that I am deployed much of the time.”
Although he hasn’t been involved in the horse industry for that long, DeStefano is already beginning to see many similarities between the world of aviation and competing with show horses. Both require an intense amount of preparation and the ability to perform in a pressure-filled situation.
“There are a lot of parallels between the military/aviation and horses,” he says. “[There are] things like attention to detail, dedication, and, most of all, camaraderie.”
“Buzz’s first day of showing will be on Veterans Day, which is pretty meaningful to someone who is on active duty. I will be able to be there and cheer him on in Fort Worth along with my other horse show/military friends like recently promoted Rear Admiral Shanahan.”
For his first foray into the horse industry, DeStefano chose to purchase a stallion as a potential business investment. His decision to focus on english events was more of a personal choice. Both decisions reflect the detail-oriented and practical determination of a pilot with a bit of the hopeful expectation of a horse-loving dreamer thrown into the mix.
“I chose a stallion as a possible business venture,” he says. “[I chose] gray [as his color] because is felt like it was rare in APHA hunter under saddle. I chose an english horse over western because the over fences are probably some of my favorite classes to watch.”
“My goal and Mason’s goal for this World Show is just to have a great time and perform the best that we can. Coming home with a buckle and/or a ribbon is always great, but being able to say you did your absolute best is all you can really ask for.”
It won’t be long before DeStefano is back in the cockpit protecting our nation’s skies. But for this one day, Veterans Day, he will be taking a moment to celebrate his horse’s debut at the World Show as a proud owner in the stands. We wish this pair the very best of luck at the upcoming APHA World Show.