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Sasha Klein - People’s Choice Junior Exhibitor Of The Year

Sasha Klein celebrated her 18th birthday

at the Grand National with proud parents

Serena-Lynn Brown and Robert Klein

 as well as many of her friends.



by Ann Bullard


Impressive. That’s the only way to describe Sasha Klein, the young lady you voted Horse World’s Morgan Junior Exhibitor of the Year. Klein’s record in the show ring alone would qualify her for your selection. The person she is puts her way over the top.


How many 18-year-olds ace their academics (and in one of the nation’s top college prep schools,) write for horse publications, volunteer with therapeutic riding programs, are focused on specific professions and star in the show ring? In a very large nutshell, that’s Sasha Klein. And, according to all who know her, she does all this in a quiet way rather than calling unneeded attention to herself.


The daughter of psycho-pharmacologist Dr. Serena-Lynn Brown and clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Klein graduates from The Hopkins School in New Haven, Conn., a feeder school for Yale and other Ivy League universities, this year. Klein hopes to follow her parents and half-sister at the prestigious university also located in New Haven. Whatever university she attends, the teenager plans to continue riding Morgans, something she has been doing since she was eight years old.


Klein said getting into Morgans was “by chance;” Bittersweet Farm was the first to return her mother’s phone call about lessons. She spent her walk and trot years with the Bethany, Conn., trainers. Three years later, she and her parents elected to begin making weekly three-hour drives to Buttzville, N.J., for the youngster to ride with Lynn and Kathleen Peeples at Waterford Farm.


“Driving back and forth every single weekend got a little old,” Klein said frankly. “Once Kathleen got comfortable with us, it made it all worthwhile.”


Worthwhile would be an understatement. Klein’s impressive show ring record began in the walk and trot division. She won three Grand National championships or reserves in the hunt seat equitation and hunter pleasure while riding with Bittersweet Farm. Teamed with Maybelinda, Mirabel’s Isabeau and WSG Mystic Impression, she has earned seven additional Hunter Pleasure and Hunt Seat Equitation Grand National or World Championships.


Klein shared many special moments with

her world champion partner Mirabel’s Isabeau

and trainer/instructor/friend Kathleen Peeples.


Kathleen Peeples laughs when she talks of Klein’s desire to learn. “Sasha is an avid learner and picks it up like a sponge. When she was showing Isabeau for us the first year, she was so busy asking questions such as how can I fix this. Then she would be busy answering it for you. Diana [Davidson] has a great picture of the two of us walking back from the ring. I have my finger over my mouth … ssh!”


Two years ago, Klein moved into a third division: junior exhibitor park harness. Driving the world titled FZM Encore, the teenager posted an enviable record, with only one reserve among her dozen blues and tricolors. The 2005 and 2006 Junior Exhibitor Park Harness Grand National and World Champion titles went back to New Jersey with the Waterford group.


Park harness is about as different from hunter pleasure and equitation as any division can be. Klein says equitation helped her in a harness buggy.


“In equitation, you learn to be discreet. Lynn said the funniest thing about me in a fine harness buggy … I got in there and didn’t have an issue, but he said ‘Would you please stop arching your back?’ That’s just my nature. There are so many little things about driving: don’t spread your legs if you’re wearing pants; it looks awful. Wear stockings instead of socks. One thing he didn’t have to teach me was how to look as if I were not having a problem.


“Hunter pleasure always will be my first love,” Klein said of the first division in which she showed. “I adore driving. Park harness is extremely elegant.”


She explained one reason she has ridden only hunt seat. “I had so many knee injuries I couldn’t do another style, one in which you use your knees differently. The pressure [riding hunt seat and Saddle Seat] is extremely different. In hunt seat, you have your calf on the horse and grip with the upper calf and top of the ankle. In Saddle Seat, you use the inner portion of the knee and brace off your feet.”


The first of her severe knee injuries came at the 2002 Southern States Horse Show.


“I did an emergency dismount off Isabeau,” Klein recalled. “When I was coming off, I tore the meniscus in the medial horn. They couldn’t find them on the MRI. I went the entire season with it seeming to be ripping again every morning.


Two years later, an accident in the show ring again ripped the meniscus “only more-so,” Klein said. “There were 36 horses in the Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure Championship at Oklahoma. Someone ran into me when they tried to pass between me and the horse on the outside. Kathleen said I was white for the entire workoff. I was rushed back for emergency surgery.”


These and subsequent knee surgeries helped Klein focus on medicine, probably orthopedic or reconstructive surgery, as a profession. Her surgeon, a family friend, has let her watch tapes and, now that she is 18, to watch live surgeries as well. Klein considers herself fortunate to know her areas of interest so she can get some experience before getting too deeply into classes.


As accomplished a rider and driver as she is, Klein says, “My most important role in the Morgan world has been reporting, especially on the kids.”


She has been covering horse shows, and especially the walk and trotter sections, for Saddle Horse Report and the International Morgan Connection for about five years.


Klein’s commitment to kids in the horse world extends to others as well. She does field work with the Pegasus Therapeutic Riding School in Darien, Conn. The family’s involvement with the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association in Ocala, Fla., started when their friend, Earleen Kenyon, began managing that program. Klein and her mother help with grant writing as well as the Symphony of Horses.


Klein has many wonderful years ahead of her. Certainly horses will play a major role in that future. Now that her knees have healed, she may add Saddle Seat to her riding disciplines. As important as her avocation is, the person she is – the ideals she lives – lead one observing her reach but one conclusion.



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