By Mitzi Oxford

During its 10 season TV run, crime/ drama series The Blacklist won an Emmy Award and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and two People’s Choice Awards. The series created a great following in many other media achievements. It was a winner.

In the first season of The Blacklist, Raymond Reddington portrayed by James Spader was always about getting things done. However, he also knew that he could only do so much. Raymond said, “I can only lead you to the truth. I can’t make you believe it.”

There is more to the connection between Raymond Reddington, owner Jane Pirolo, trainer Carrie Martin DeJarnatte and World Grand Champion Blacklist than you can imagine. It makes for a story befitting the YIWH Pleasure Horse of the Year. 


Jane grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois to parents who owned and worked a grain, hog and beef cattle farm. She got a pony at the age of six named “Happy”which led to an obsession with horses. After graduating college with a degree in agriculture and journalism – advertising, she moved to St. Louis. Jane worked at Washington University School of Medicine for 10 years as an administrative assistant in a basic science department.

Later she moved to Tennessee, raising German Shorthair Pointers and competing in AKC horseback field trials all over the country. In 2006, she bought a yearling colt with Dr. Roger Richards and Angie Bumpus. The colt went onto win a reserve world grand championship that year, and she was hooked. “

After moving to Franklin, Tennessee, I started showing horses. I had some good ones, but I wanted a great horse,” Jane said.

In February 2023, her friend, Carrie Martin DeJarnatte told her that she had a horse which Jane needed to see. “Take a ride and see what you think,“ was Carrie‘s advice.

While the plot contains the essential events of a story, the subplot provides extra elements that add interest and depth. This is the subplot of the Pleasure Horse of the Year story: the horse is Blacklist but around the barn he is called Raymond.

“I’m thinking, OMG, it’s Blacklist… THE Blacklist! He is well known as one of the best trail pleasure horses ever! And I was being given the chance to ride him, and even possibly buy him. This was just incredible. I was a bit intimidated by the presence of this beautiful horse. He is like a movie star to me. However, I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a shot. So, I rode him, and it was such an amazing thing. He is the Ferrari of horses. I was speechless. He is so big and powerful and talented. I knew what I had to do.”


A task force can be convened to draft a report, make a set of recommendations, identify candidates for a new job position or solve a challenge.

Enter trainer Carrie Martin DeJarnatte who checks all those boxes. She thrives on bringing a horse along in the training process, and then matching the right horse with the right rider.

“Blacklist, out of Gen’s Black Gin and My Cosmopolitan, was a two-year-old in 2016 when I got him. He came from humble beginnings. He was unregistered and barely broke. It took a while, but I began to see the potential in him,” Carrie explained.

When she started showing him a year later, Carrie said he understood the routine and liked it. That year in 2017 Blacklist won a world championship at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Open English Trail Pleasure.

What makes Blacklist special? “He gets the connection. He has a big heart, and he would do anything for his people, meaning his trainer and rider.”

In the coming years there would be many Blacklist owners and riders including Kathy Zeis, Kimberly Walden, Joe Lester and Sherry Kessler.

In 2018, Blacklist took first in Trail Pleasure classes with Carrie on board at the Trainers’ Show and the Columbia Spring Jubilee.

The following year, with Joe Lester and Kimberly Walden, Blacklist had blue ribbons at the Columbia Spring Jubilee and the Money Tree Classic. Then, Joe rode him to several more first place wins at the Celebration including a Trail Pleasure Five & Under World Grand Championship title.

The blue ribbon rides just kept on coming for Blacklist in 2020 and in 2021, with Kimberly and then Sherry Kessler and Carrie in the saddle. Those wins came at the Celebration, Cornersville Lions Club and
the Celebration Fall Classic.

In 2022, Blacklist walked to the Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship with Carrie in the saddle for Sherry. Both Blacklist and Carrie have won world grand championships in the past, but this was their first as a team. Blacklist had nine blues in 11 classes in 2022, three of those at the Celebration. Sherry rode to first in the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure class.

Sherry would agree that Blacklist is special. “A one-of-a-kind horse, not like any other horse I’ve ever ridden,” said Sherry.

Last year, Blacklist continued his winning ways, with new owner Jane Pirolo.

According to Carrie, Blacklist has continued to blossom with Jane. “It’s been a two-way street, or show ring if you will.”


Once again life imitates art. Raymond Reddington once stated on The Blacklist, “This is no time to sit on a fence.”

Not long after Jane spent time getting to know “Raymond” Carrie was off doing errands. It was just her and him in the crossties.

“I looked at him and asked, ‘Should I buy you?’” He nodded his head three times. “I asked him again, thinking this was a fluke, and once again he nodded three times.”

At the time, Jane was at a crossroads. At 64 years old, she knew she could either sit on the fence or make her life spectacular. “Buying Blacklist was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Teaming up with Carrie was also a huge plus in her life. 

“Carrie taught me how to ride English style on this big, beautiful horse. The way she teaches reminds me of a Confucius saying: Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand. I felt and understood every movement. I found strength, determination and confidence.”

With Carrie’s guidance, Jane and Blacklist became a team. Carrie reiterated that Blacklist is a winner but a big part of “why” is connecting with his rider, in this case Jane.


Once off the fence, in 2023 Jane and Blacklist became a team. Their first three shows brought them reserve wins. According to Jane, those second-place ribbons were just part of the journey.

“Then everything changed. We started winning. Our last three shows before the Celebration, w placed first. I finally felt like I belonged, like we belonged together as a team.”

Jane and Blacklist developed a following and, “It’s been so exciting and rewarding.”

“He started off with several different owners and riders, but with Jane, Blacklist has really come into his own. He became a great amateur horse and has found his niche,” said Carrie.

Jane describes owning and showing Blacklist as a dream come true. The 2023 Celebration sealed the deal. For the second year in a row, Blacklist and Carrie won the Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. Jane also earned a Celebration victory directing Blacklist to top honors in the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure class. It was the seventh blue in 10 classes in 2023 for Blacklist, and the fifth in a row.


“Wisdom is learning the boundaries of one’s designated lane,” said Raymond Reddington.

Blacklist, aka Raymond, with the help of Carrie and Jane, has found his lane and it goes straight to the top of the winner’s circle.

“The YIWH Pleasure Horse of the Year is an amazing honor. There are many great horses out there, but this recognition is special,” said Carrie.

Jane concurs. “I want to continue showing my beautiful Blacklist. I believe I have the best pleasure horse in the world. He brings me great joy. I’m honored and proud that Blacklist was chosen as the YIWH Pleasure Horse of the Year.”

2023 closed out on a winning note. Blacklist also earned the Riders’ Cup High Point Trail Pleasure title, the WHTA Trail Pleasure Reserve Horse of the Year honors, the WHR Readers’ Choice Trail Plea
sure Champion honor, and Jane was honored with the WHR Readers’ Choice Amateur Reserve Champion award.

While there are no plans for an 11th season of The Blacklist TV show, Blacklist the walking horse champion promises many more seasons