Driving horse Bravour 54 earned his place in history books as a 2018 World Equestrian Games gold medalist for Team USA and a 2013 European Championships silver medalist for Team Germany.
But the KWPN bay gelding reached a new level of superstardom last week: Breyerfest 2023 Celebration Model status.
The now-16-year-old gelding first cut his international teeth as part of Marieke Harm’s four-in-hand team in Germany. It’s there he captured the interest of USA’s Misdee Wrigley Miller.
“He is the perfect combination of beauty, intelligence, and just enough fiery temperament to make him a standout,” said the American driver. “He always caught my eye because he was so flashy in his beautiful movements.”
And while beauty certainly never hurts a driving horse, it’s Bravour’s unique character that makes him well suited to his job, she said—especially when the pressure is on.
“He’s a born leader, and those types of horses are very, very hard to find,” Wrigley Miller explained, adding that Bravour’s natural courage and intelligence make him an ideal pathfinder for the team.
Joining Wrigley Miller’s string in 2017, she originally planned to get to know Bravour 54 before introducing him to one of her teams. But when one of her horses passed away unexpectedly before the 2018 WEG, the gelding was fast tracked into team training.
With Wrigley Miller at the reins, Bravour 54 drove to seven top-five international finishes between 2018 and 2019, highlighted by team gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon, NC. It was the first time a woman won a gold medal in Combined Driving and also the first gold medal in the sport for the U.S.
“It’s [his] temperament that kept us going all three days at the World Equestrian Games. You really need to dig deep. And he had that extra fire in his belly to say, ‘Let’s get this done.’”
Get it done, he did, driving his way into the history books as well as onto toy store shelves around the world. But don’t be fooled: Wrigley Miller says that Bravour knows the difference between work time and rest time.
“In the barn, he is a total cuddle muffin, and loves his hugs [and] scratches,” she explained. “He becomes super affectionate. But put his harness on, and put him to the carriage, and he’s all business.”
Wrigley Miller says that Breyer captured her horse’s unique color and one-of-a-kind expression perfectly and hopes that immortalizing him in model form may help to inspire the next generation of potential drivers in a sport they can enjoy at all ages of life.
“If people are wondering, what does it take to have a truly outstanding driving horse,” Wrigley says, “they need look no further than Bravour.”