Photo: Emma Butchard and Cascada K.
Nov. 21, 2020 — The sun has set on another full day of work at Nagata Sport Horses in Panningen, The Netherlands. But Emma Butchard (USA) and Andre Nagata (BRA) can still be found in the barn.
The couple, partners in both business and in life, take the term “hands on” very seriously. After bringing home a top placing, they celebrate by cleaning stalls. Each morning, there’s an early wake-up call to drop feed, turn out the horses and clean the stalls again — all before even getting to the real work of training their string of 12 horses.
Don’t be mistaken. A quick look at Butchard and Nagata’s impressive resumes of top international placings reveals a pair that has already paid their dues in the industry. But these two riders believe in earning their success, both in and out of the saddle.
“We’re focused on the details,” Butchard said. “Andre is very much into the details in the arena, setting courses, improving groundwork with the horses, and training on the flat. I’m very detail-oriented with the management of the barn and planning for our string. We do everything together, and we complement each other really well.”
It’s a mindset that has served them especially well in 2020, as FEI competition in Holland has come to a temporary halt for the second time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The monthly FEI shows at the local Peelbergen Equestrian Center have been replaced with Training CSI shows, where local operations can school their horses in a competitive environment. Butchard and Nagata have taken advantage of the opportunity, bringing their entire competition string, including their young horses, for positive training experiences at the popular show venue. At home, they commit extra time to flatwork and even groundwork, as they work with a specialist in studying the way their horses move and use their bodies.
“We’ve been focusing on dressage work, which for me, I didn’t learn a whole lot of when I was in the U.S. Andre’s very good at it,” Butchard said. “We’ve also set several gymnastic exercises at home. It’s been great to practice.
“Peelbergen’s Training CSI shows have also been really nice,” she continued. “It’s calm and quiet at the venue, and the courses are still tough enough. They don’t go easy on that!”
Butchard and Nagata combined their respective Leatherstocking Farm and Nagata Sport Horses operations in the spring of 2019, when Butchard relocated from her longtime base in Wellington, FL. Together, the pair runs a boutique dealing barn, with a focus on developing equine talent for top sport.
“We have some horses that we’re producing and taking our time with that don’t have to be sold right away, and then some horses that are in and out more quickly for sale,” Butchard explained.
“It’s so nice to work with the horses and to see them improve,” she added. “It’s such a great feeling. We recently took our 4-year-old Itran to his first show, and it was so fun and so rewarding when he put in such a lovely round and was so professional — he acted like a saint! Then it’s nice to be competitive [with our more experienced mounts] in the international shows.”
Butchard was a regular on the international circuit in the eastern United States. She competed at the 2016 U-25 Final at the National Horse Show as well as the Open Jumper division at the historic Washington International Horse Show. The year 2017 produced many more top performances in what was surely a breakout year for the now-27-year-old: Emma and top mount Brasil (Tenerife VDL x Farrington) placed in CSI4* competition at both the Devon Horse Show and the Hampton Classic.
While Brasil took some time off in 2018, Butchard sought an opportunity to grow as a professional and set her sights on Europe. The timing was right; she met Nagata, who was in the process of relocating to Holland, shortly thereafter. A six-month stint turned into a permanent move, and both Brasil and Butchard’s other international mount Cascada K (Calido I x Lacros) have joined her across the pond.
“Cassi has really thrived over here and has benefitted from the extra dressage and flatwork that Andre has made such an important part of our program,” Butchard said. “Brasil is doing great and getting fit. I’m excited to get back to FEI shows with both of them.”
Butchard and Nagata boast a talented group of equines, ranging from 4 to 14 in age.
The 4-year-old Itran (Indoctro x Balou) is a special source of excitement. The tall gelding quickly made an impression on the Nagata Sport Horses team, displaying a poise well beyond his age and scope worthy of big things.
“He’s for sale, but we are also sort of producing him. He’s a big, young horse and needs some time to grow, but he’s capable, brave, and scopey for sure,” Butchard said.
Kara des Rosiers (Kannan x Papillon Rouge), two years Itran’s elder, stands out for her style; Butchard and Nagata think she will be a quick study. “She’s a really commercial type; she’s easy and brave,” Butchard said. “We’re not sure how high she’ll jump, but she’s going to do it well. She’s very careful. She just goes right around, nice and easy.”
Icarus (Quasimodo Z x Campbell VDL), a 7-year-old, is another exciting young prospect in the group — “very scopey,” as described by Nagata. More experienced mounts like Calviska de la Felize (Calvados Z x Papillon Rouge), currently located at Nagata’s brother Felipe’s Italy-based operation, and Cascada K are also for sale as Butchard and Nagata look to grow the sales side of their business.
There are bigger aspirations, of course. But if anything is certain during a year of unprecedented changes, it’s this: Butchard and Nagata are willing to put in the work required to achieve whatever they set their minds to.
“My long term goal is to still be able to ride for Team USA in Nations Cups and Championships, while having a successful business with Andre,” she said. “One thing that’s different about being in Europe is that in the U.S., I was always surrounded by my family and close friends, who supported me at home — training and at every show. Here, it is just Andre and me, except the one time my family visited for during Brasil’s CSI1* comeback last year. Andre and I can support each other through the good days and bad days, when we need a little extra push or support.”
Leatherstocking Farm & Nagata Sport Horses