Catch Me’s story of challenges and championships caught the heart and attention of a nation. It all began when Snoopy, as the grey Holsteiner gelding is known at his home in Wellington, Florida, was purchased in 2015 by amateur rider Becky Gochman as her own show horse and to represent Baxter Hill Farm in the hunter divisions.
The horse had the natural chrome of a show horse and the charm of a barn buddy. His big white head and soft pink nose are where the nickname "Snoopy" came from! He had caught Gochman's eye a few years before she ultimately purchased him – she'd been eyeing the young, beautiful horse with fluid movement, and she and her trainer Scott Stewart bought him at 8 years old in 2015.
© Irene Powlick
One of the country’s top hunter riders and trainers, Stewart has been the only professional rider to show Snoopy for Gochman and Baxter Hill. His first impression was how beautiful a mover and jumper he was, but not necessarily the easiest to ride; his lead changes were rough and he seemed determined to behave as if Snoopy rhymed with “spooky.” But Stewart and Gochman agreed to take it slow with his training, and the decision paid off: they won many championships that year at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, including a First Year Green Working Hunter Reserve Championship, four additional First Year Green Working Hunter Championships, and the final Circuit Champion title.
From there it was on to the Kentucky Spring Show, where Snoopy eluded his competition, won every class in the First Year Green Working Hunter division, and was named overall champion.
But his promising show ring career came to an unexpected hard stop in front of the biggest obstacle Snoopy – or Gochman – had ever faced: a diagnosis of equine botulism, a disease also known as "forage poisoning" that can be fatal. Snoopy was left partially paralyzed and underwent two months of intensive treatment. Thankfully, the immediacy of the diagnosis and treatment gave him a fighting chance, and slowly but surely he began to regain his strength and eat like a normal horse again.
Even more remarkable than Snoopy’s recovery was how soon he wanted to get back into the ring and to the business of winning championships, including on the prestigious fall circuit at the Pennsylvania National, Capital Challenge, National Horse Show and Washington International.
That year, out of the 14 times Snoopy competed in First Year Green Working Hunters, he brought tricolors home to Baxter Hill 12 times. Stewart and Snoopy were named 2015 USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider Hunter of the Year and awarded the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup. Snoopy proved that even botulism couldn’t catch him.
Catch Me is still showing and staying true to his name. In addition to four more indoor titles in 2016, he was named 2016 USEF National Horse of the Year, 2016 and 2017 National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Horse of the Year, and was inducted into the EQUUS Horse Stars Hall of Fame.
Snoopy will always be known as a legend of the hunter ring, but for Gochman, no honor can compare to seeing the horse that once fought paralysis now basking in the sun, nibbling grass in his pasture.
Catch Me's model has been part of Breyer's regular line since 2019.