Matt was asked to write an article for the ‘ask the experts’ section of Dressage Today. The article was published in the August 2017 Baroque Issue. Our sponsor, Mane ‘n Tail, also published an ad in this issue using an OLD photo of Matt and Pecos that they love to use for their Spray ‘n White and Spray ‘n Braid marketing.
We started our journey to Madison, Wisconsin for the 2015 Midwest Horse Fair with a bang….literally.
Our equine crew, Cooper V, Versatil Imagem, Pecos and Confetti, monitored the repair closely and we were soon back on the road.
Although rainy and windy, the rest of the trip was uneventful. After unloading the horses and equipment at the Alliant Energy Center, we tracked down a nearby commercial tire shop and got Velma (our Volvo Semi) six new shoes including fancy lo pro fronts…just in case she decided to mimic the trailer on our way home!
The booth set up, we were all ready for opening day on Friday. The Mid-West Horse Fair is the second largest event at the Alliant Energy Center. A record breaking 61,000 people attended the Fair this year!
Matt and his horses were very busy all three days of the exhibition, giving lectures and demonstrations on training philosophy, the different levels of dressage, lateral work, flying changes as well as piaffe and passage. Bucket list accomplishment? Getting his name on the Jumbotron.
Cooper V and Confetti were spectacular in the Epic Night of the Horse production on Saturday. This was Cooper’s first time performing with spotlights and a large audience and he was absolutely brilliant. Confetti’s routine was funnier than ever, with the help of production director John Harrison, whose portrayal of Angora, the ugly stepsister, had Matt laughing so hard he couldn’t remember his lines.
A fantastic weekend for the McLaughlin team! We would like to send a huge thank you to the management and volunteers at the Midwest Horse Fair. Your organization and amazing hospitality are unmatched. We also were very impressed by the Fair attendees whose kindness, intelligent questions and interest in dressage made the weekend especially rewarding. We truly appreciate the feedback and comments we have received since we returned home and have included some of them below. Thank you Wisconsin!
I attended all of Matt’s sessions at the Horse Fair. What a wealth of knowledge he shared with us and his love and passion for his horses and teaching dressage was clearly evident. Plus he was funny and kind. Can’t get any better. PLEASE email the Midwest horse fair to let them know you enjoyed his visit. It would be wonderful to have Matt come again to the fair.
It is not that easy to make dressage entertaining AND informative – but you did. Very much appreciate your efforts.
Enjoyed your clinic Saturday! Love Versatil’s personality and thank you for the reminder that things don’t always go as planned and that’s okay.
All of your demos and performances were fantastic! The evening show performance was breathtaking and you were clearly the star of the show. The audience was going wild. Thank you so much for sharing with us. The schedule seemed pretty intense. I came right home and started working on the piaffe with renewed understanding.
Thank you for sharing your talent, knowledge and passion with us at the Fair this weekend! Both you and your horses were simply amazing and inspiring!
Matt and team-we were so blown away by your demo style and the beautiful, happy horses. It’s not easy to take them that far away from home, and still see the enjoyment of their job on their faces and in their body language. I also so appreciated how much YOU seem to love what you do. Your passion and knowledge of the discipline make me want to cross-train my big 17h appendix QH hunter!! Do you take vacation visitors?? Thank you again. Trainers like you re-inspire my love and appreciation for these animals all over again. Great job.
I just wanted to tell you that I have seen many different shows and exhibits but When I saw You ride to AC/DC I can’t even tell you what kind of goose bumps I got. You definitely were one of the best parts of the show. It made my day.
My daughter, son, and I attended a couple of your sessions and really enjoyed them and we all learned something and left inspired. My 12 year old daughter is now very inspired to teach her Welsh pony (who was one of those poor little carnival ride ponies in a previous life) to piaffe. I purchased your DVD and a cue stick for her and she is already hard at work. So please know your trip was well worth it. She has been interested in learning and improving in dressage and is now very inspired and ready to show the world just what she and her pony can do. This will be a fantastic learning experience for her. 🙂 Thanks!!!!
August 3rd, 2014 was a heartbreaking day at Matt McLaughlin Dressage as we said a final farewell to our 29 year old Andalusian, Coral II. Known and loved by spectators all over North America, Coral was Matt’s exhibition partner and friend for 22 years.
Although our favorite opinionated grouch at the barn, Coral’s colorful past rivaled the popular tales of Black Beauty and War Horse. He entered the world as a feisty young horse with a sore temper. He was gelded and sold to the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion Show. Coral had contentious relationships with several trainers, introducing all to the wickedly fast punishment of his right hind foot which claimed several broken human bones along the way. In 1993, Matt took Coral on and began to re-integrate him into the show. With the help of the Head Trainer, Coral taught Matt the intricacies of timing, patience and earning a horse’s respect. The two began to shine as the favorite solo act with the show. Coral’s flamboyant performance of haute ecole and Olympic level dressage movements in perfect rhythm with the music made him a favorite with audiences. Coral performed in exhibitions all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe.
After Matt left the Lipizzaner Stallion show, the company sold Coral to a woman in Colorado. Several trainers deemed Coral dangerous, based on his favorite trick – a vertical rear, so the woman put Coral out to pasture. In 2001, the woman contacted Lori, who recognized Coral instantly, and arranged to have him shipped back to Florida. Reunited, Matt and Coral continued to wow audiences with their high energy performances.
In 2007, Matt’s attempt to retire Coral was immediately rejected through hunger strikes and farm demolition. This lead to the compromise of semi-retirement, which seemed to agree with Coral who continued to light up in the spotlights and perform with the energy of a horse half his age until 2011. He then became a favorite for our working students who learned dressage, haute ecole and long-lining skills through his exacting instruction. Coral’s teaching method of ‘do it right or I’ll do whatever I want’ was an excellent experience for students and great entertainment for the rest of us. Finally agreeing to full retirement in the summer of 2013, he spent the last year of his life bossing around his pasture mate and making sure the barn feeding schedule was strictly maintained.
Coral was an amazing horse. We were lucky to have him in our lives and are grateful for everything he taught us about horsemanship. He will be missed.
See Coral’s last performance in Del Mar, CA at the 2011 Annual Del Mar National Horse Show’s Night of the Horse on Youtube.
After posting this on Facebook, we received an incredible response from Coral’s friends. As of August 6th, 19,552 people saw the post and 221 comments were made. A true reminder that Coral touched many lives. See below for a few of the unedited comments:
- “Matt I had the privilege of seeing you perform at Night of the Horse in Brooksville. You were my inspiration to pursue dressage. I have a video of this performance and was watching it last night. I’m so sorry for your loss what an amazing partner and partnership….”
- “ I saw you perform at horse world expo in PA. Coral gave me the passion to never give up on tough horses, just to understand what they are telling me”
- “A true hearted Andalusian ! Fire in his heart and passion in his blood. No point telling him to rest easy. He wouldn’t like that. He’s probably shadow boxing clouds.”
- “So sorry for your loss! Coral was a lucky horse to live out his life with Matt. I’m so glad I was able to see them perform together many times! “
- “I feel honored to have seen him showed. Chris Cox had Matt at his clinic. They even traded horses for a while.”
- “So sorry to hear of his passing…I’ll never forget the show you guys put on in Windsor, Nova Scotia…RIP Coral”
- “What a remarkable character he was! Two weeks ago, we laughed as he snorted and called to Frankie–obviously forgetting that he was a gelding. Hugs to all of you and cheers to Coral.”
- “ I’m so sorry. I still have so many pictures from when I rode him and he was the first horse I have ever learned to rear and bow on. Corral will always have a special place in my heart. He was an absolutely amazing horse “
- “So very sorry – I remember meeting him in person – he was vibrant and such a character.. I remember watching Matt ride in a solo performance – truly breath taking. RIP Coral II – you will be missed!”
- “ I’m sorry for you guys. He was so much fun, and I learned a lot from him and his do it right or I’ll make you lessons. Hugs to you all, miss all of you and will miss Coral II forever!”
- “I was a lucky person to meet and ride this amazing horse. I saw many performances of him and Matt. Rip Coral. You were an amazing horse and I’m sad to hear this news. I’m sorry for your loss Matt. He was loved by many of his adoring fans.”
- “Fabulous horse. Grateful to have made his acquaintance. Will never forget the day he allowed my daughter the privilege of riding him. She got to feel all of his fabulous moves piaffe, passage, and much to my concern levade. He knew exactly what he was doing and I will never forget her smile when she asked for it and he so kindly, and honestly obliged. Matt and Lori please know how sorry we are for your loss and how grateful were were to enjoy him.”
- “The Horse World Expo will forever miss you Coral. May you have all the mares you want and the alfalfa you can eat. (( hugs)).”
- “So sorry for your loss Matt. Coral was indeed an awesome horse. Matt and Coral had a wonderful connection as performers. They WOWED many audiences. A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to Fla. and train under Matt for a few days, and some of my instruction was on Coral. What a honor it was to ride this great horse. Thank You Matt.”
- “Farewell to a legend. See you on the other side Coral! This horse and Matt performed together all over the world. They always stole the show!“
- “Tissues please! Matt McLaughlin is amazing person and Coral was an incredible horse. I was blessed and honored to see them both perform several times. My deepest condolences to Matt and the entire team at Matt McLaughlin Dressage. Rest in peace Coral. May God rest your soul.”