Chehalis Woman’s Horse Earns Accolades in National, International Competitions


Merida the Bitless, as she’s known on social media, or Merida to her owner Kirstina Lotz, earned accolades from five different national and international organizations involved in both competitive and non-competitive horse riding during 2022. 

A 13.2-hand gypsy mare, Merida competes together with Lotz in a wide range of equine events, including mountain trail, arena trail, showmanship, ranch riding, jumping and more. All riding done by Lotz is bitless. The pair lives in Chehalis. 

“I am not anti-bit, but I do believe people should have a choice if they want to compete bitless or not,” Lotz told The Chronicle. “Even better, the horse should have a choice. Merida let me know soon after I bought her in 2018 that she was not a fan of a bit, so we don’t use one. It hasn’t slowed us down.”

The accolades earned by Merida in 2022 include: 

• The International Mountain Trail Challenge Association’s reserve high point winner for open in-hand, point levels 1 and 2 ride, high point open ride and in-hand.

• The international Registry of Bitless Equestrians’ third place award in open bitless non-ridden, reserve champion in open bitless ridden, champion in bitless mountain trail and being named overall Bitless Horse and Human of the Year for a second time.

• Achieving third place in the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society’s Advantage program top 10 based off of Merida and Lotz’s public activity and participation in events.

• Being named the Gypsy Horse Registry of America’s ambassador mare for all events, shows and activities in 2022, including dressing up for photos at the Ace Hardware in Tumwater. 

• The Traditional Gypsy Cob Association’s 2022 USA Cob Achiever Award for all of the shows Merida and Lotz competed in. 

“The awards started getting announced about mid-January and continued through late February, with the final announcement being for the Bitless Horse and Human of the Year,” Lotz said. “I was just blown away by how well we did, well really, how well she did. It’s all Merida. She is just an amazing horse and I am so fortunate to have her as a partner.”

Additionally, Lotz rides with Bow Creek Mounted Archery in Winlock and is contemplating adding that to Merida’s competition list in 2024. This year, Merida will be taking a bit of a break. 

“Merida is having a foal so she is getting to be a mom — she loves all the extra food — and I am starting a business with my extra time,” Lotz said. 

Lotz’s new business is Equine Industry News, an equine trade magazine with an accompanying website with news for horse owners. It can be found online at 

Lotz has a blog on the website for products reviews as well. That can be found at 

For those interested, Merida also has Facebook and Instagram profiles, which can be found and followed by searching for Merida the Bitless.