Submitted by Merida The Bitless
DGH Eternity, known as Merida The Bitless to her social media fans and as just Merida to her owner Kristina Lotz, ended 2022 on a high note, garnering year-end awards from five different national and international organizations for competitive and non-competitive riding. All riding, whether at a show or for recreation, was done bitless, something her owner is very proud of.
“I am not anti-bit, but I do believe people should have a choice if they want to compete bitless or not,” shares Kristina Lotz. “Even better, the horse should have a choice! Merida let me know soon after I bought her in 2018 that she was not a fan of a bit, so we don’t use one. It hasn’t slowed us down.”
Merida, a 13.2-hand gypsy mare, and Kristina compete in a wide range of equine events, including western and English pleasure and equitation classes, mountain trail, arena trail, showmanship, ranch riding, jumping and more. The awards they garnered at the end of 2022 reflect their hard work and dedication to the breed throughout the year.
Merida and Kristina earned the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association Reserve High Point winner for Open In-Hand, High Point Levels 1 and 2 Ride, and High Point Open Ride and In-Hand.
With the International Registry of Bitless Equestrians, they were third in Open Bitless Non-Ridden; Reserve Champion Open Bitless Ridden; Champion Bitless Mountain Trail; and overall Bitless Horse & Human of the Year, an award Merida has now won twice.
In the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society’s Vanner Advantage program, which awards gypsy and their owners for any type of activity they do, from showing to parades and demos. Merida and Kristina placed in the Top Ten, achieving third place in 2022.
For a third year, Merida was also named the Gypsy Horse Registry of America’s Ambassador Mare for all the events, shows and activities they did in 2022 to represent the breed – including dressing up for photos at the local Lincoln Creek Lumber Hardware and Avenue Espresso on 93rd Avenue in Tumwater, Washington.
Finally, the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association – the breed register for Europe – awarded Merida the 2022 USA Cob Achiever Award for all the shows they competed in during the year.
“The awards started getting announced about mid-January,” explains Kristina, “and continued through late February, with the final announcement being for the Bitless Horse & Human of the year. I was just blown away by how well we did, well really, how well she did. It’s all Merida. She is just an amazing horse, and I am so fortunate to have her as a partner.”
They also go on trail rides – a favorite thing of Merida’s – and are part of a mounted archery club, Bow Creek Mounted Archery in Winlock. “I have always done archery just for fun, not to compete. But maybe in 2024, we will. This year, Merida is having a foal, so she is getting to be a mom – she loves all the extra food – and I am starting a business with my extra time,” shares Kristina with a laugh.
Her new business is EQUINE INDUSTRY NEWS, a business-to-business trade magazine for the equine industry. And, of course, Merida is involved. “Merida has her own blog where she reviews products with her own bit of sass added in. It’s quite fun! And she will name one product her top product each year, with an award and everything.”