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From An Auction To the Quarter Horse Congress

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Eva, Carly, and Linda at the 2016 All American Quarter Horse Congress

Spotting a diamond in the rough led to Carly Baker fulfilling her dreams, including showing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress.

By Delores Kuhlwein


Believe you can and you’re halfway there. – Theodore Roosevelt.

“No thanks!” were the first words out of Carly Baker’s mouth the first time her mom, Linda Ottavi, spotted “RR Ill Have Another.”

Carly and her mom were looking for a finished show horse and simply not finding one when Linda saw “Eva” at Tom Moore’s Sales in Onsted, Michigan, but Carly was quick to object. “My mindset then was terrible,” Carly admits.  “My mom has a thing for a soft eye, and Eva had the softest eye.”

Photo by Jessica Baird

So when they returned for the auction Tom was hosting, her mom happily spotted Eva again, and she encouraged Carly to try her out. Carly was reluctant. But she hopped on anyway.

It was then she got what was likely the surprise of her life. “I instantly loved her!” exclaims Carly. But when her mom told her to get off almost immediately, Carly was confused.  After assuring Carly liked her, Linda said, “Too many eyes were on you,” because apparently, the duo looked great together.

The odds were in their favor, and they went home that day with their $6500 horse and stars in their eyes.

Their journey together began, and  Carly admits, even though it seemed crazy and a lot of lessons were learned, she also found her heart horse in the mare she almost passed up.

First, Eva went to Jan Gates for some fine tuning and a start in showmanship. Carly explains, “We brought her back closer to us at a boarding facility at the end of spring and I finished the showmanship and just bonded with her.  We went through a few trainers before we found Judy Moosmann who took us to the 2016 QH Congress.”

Photo by Ruehle Photographix

Along the way, they earned the Level 1 All Around Amateur High Point at a Gordyville show, seventh at the level 1 Championship Show in the Hunter Under Saddle (“We even won our split!” says Carly), and they ended up as Top 15 in the nation in HUS and Top 10 in the nation for Showmanship in 2016.

The whole experience, Carly says, “ultimately shaped me into who I am in the industry – how I show, what I like, what I don’t like, etc. I catch myself comparing everything to Eva.”

Of course, her mindset changed as a result, making her realize that the underdogs can rise with a small budget, she says.  “You do not need the most expensive horse to show. You do not need the most fancy anything.  All you need is the passion, determination, and dedication to get it done!”

Her advice to others, she says, brings about a lot of emotion, because she wishes she could tell her whole testimony to let everyone who might feel discouraged that their time will come, and that anything is quite literally possible – if they “Just. Keep. Going!”

As far as the recent social media topic of whether a 5 or 6 figure horse is necessary to make their dreams come true, Carly says there’s a place for all horses, including the horses in that price range, but it’s foolish to think everyone needs one to succeed.

“We all do this horse thing because we love the animal and I think we need to get back to that – the welfare of the horse.  We all have different budgets, different needs, different wants, different everything, so everyone just needs to be kind and ENCOURAGE others, even if their price tag is different than yours.”

Her favorite piece of advice:

“Everything in God’s timing. It’s amazing how if you just hand over the reins to Him (no pun intended!) what He can really do in your life.  He made wine out of water after all. Imagine what he can do with that “less than average” horse!

Eva and Carly – by Jessica Baird

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