NickerDoodles Derby Hat Contest: First prize!

Remember Alyssa Johnson, winner of the NickerDoodles Derby Hat Contest in May? As her prize, Alyssa won a custom portrait of her favorite horse, Gus, by Melanie Eberhardt. Here it is!

Thank you, Alyssa, for entering the contest  and for sharing the story of your special horse.


Alyssa’s winning derby hat

From Alyssa:

The picture I want a portrait of is me and a very special horse, Gus. He never belonged to me, he was a long-term lease. The first time I leased him was for about a year. In that year he brought me up to Beginner Novice and First Level dressage. Sadly, after that year his owners chose to sell him. About six months later I joined a different barn, and lo and behold there he was!

Gus is really an amazing boy… nobody knows what he is or where he came from, we’ve just been calling him Thoroughbred. He’s about 16 hands and 20 years old now, living his days as a lesson horse. When I rode Gus, we did mostly eventing (a few hunter/jumper shows). He’s a lazy boy but does whatever you want as soon as you ask. Very responsive to leg! He has so much heart. At the show where we did my first Beginner Novice it was 100 degrees. He was tired at the end of the day but we went into show jumping and he rocked it. As soon as we left the ring he just kind of “oomphed” and walked so slow because he gave it all to me in the show ring!

The picture I’d like painted was from the end of a “event derby” (cross-country and show jumping combined). We finished clear so I knew we won on our dressage score!

The photo:


The finished portrait:


A huge thank-you to Melanie Eberhardt and NickerDoodles for sponsoring this fun contest! For information on commissioning your own horse portrait, please visit then click on PORTRAITS in the navigation bar or simply email Melanie at [email protected]. Portraits make great holiday gifts!

Go Riding.


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