Zee Kahili++// – Master of Versatility and Companion in Healing


By Chelsea Johnson


As featured in the Summer 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World

Versatility is the quality of being adaptable to various tasks and fields, and Zee Kahili++// perfectly embodies this definition. Kahili, a 2014 bay stallion, was bred by Trevor Gerardi Miller and is now under the ownership of Lee Cary Chase. The idea to breed Kahili arose during a conversation between Trevor and the renowned Sheila Varian when brainstorming potential cow horse breeding combinations. Sheila recommended breeding Trevor’s mare, Zees Kopy Kat, to her stallion Mexicali Mac V. This decision led to the creation of an exceptional and versatile horse who undoubtedly embodies the versatility of the Arabian horse. Trevor showcased Kahili in multiple disciplines, including Reining, Ranch Riding, Sport Horse In-Hand, Western Trail, and Western Pleasure, before selling Kahili and passing the reins to Lee in 2021.


After Lee bought Kahili from Trevor, she continued showcasing him in various disciplines such as Ranch Riding, Sport HorseUnder Saddle, Sport Horse In-Hand, and, as of recently, Western Dressage. Kahili demonstrates eagerness and enthusiasm towards any task assigned to him. According to Lee, Kahili takes pleasure in his work and truly enjoys his job. His greatest joy comes from tackling new challenges and showcasing his skills at shows. The inspiration for classical dressage struck after attending the 2023 Sport Horse Nationals. There, Kahili demonstrated his versatility by excelling in Sport Horse Under Saddle Dressage Type, Sport Horse In-Hand Hunter Type, Sport Horse In-Hand Dressage Type, and Sport Horse Under Saddle AOTR Jackpot. Kahili emerged victorious in the Jackpot class and the In-Hand Dressage Type class. Lee vividly remembers the buzz surrounding Kahili after his outstanding performances, especially impressing the dressage judges. Encouraged by fans to explore Classical Dressage, Lee admitted, “Dressage is out of my wheelhouse, but I got to thinking that that’s Jiffy’s game.” Jiffy is Lee’s nickname for Johanna Husta, a close friend of Lee and a client of her husband, Jesse Chase. Both Lee and Johanna embraced this new challenge, and unsurprisingly, Kahili proved ready for the adventure.

Zee Kahili++//

Johanna Husta has had a lifelong passion for riding and showing horses, starting at five years old. Throughout her fifty years of experience, she has competed in various breeds, including Morgans and Dutch Harness Horses, as well as different disciplines such as Hunter-Jumpers, Equitation, and Eventing, but found her true calling in Dressage. Johanna first met the Chases about ten years ago when a friend introduced her to Jesse to help with her challenging Dutch Harness Horse. Jesse Chase successfully trained the horse, leading Johanna to become both a client and a student. Most importantly, this led to a close friendship between Jesse, Lee, and Johanna. Under Jesse’s guidance, Johanna’s horse progressed to training for Level 4 and Prix St. George Dressage tests. Unfortunately, Johanna’s training was interrupted when she was diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer in late 2022, which affected her central lymph nodes and left breast. Following diligent research, Johanna commenced treatment in January 2023, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and further chemotherapy for residual cancer in her lymph nodes. Throughout her treatment, Johanna persisted in her passion for riding, finding solace and joy. Her doctors advised her through treatment to stay active and do things that make her happy. However, Johanna may not have always been abundantly clear that her activity of choice was riding horses. When Joanna finally informed her doctors that she had been riding horses, they initially expressed concern but eventually acknowledged its positive impact on her well-being and encouraged her to keep pursuing what brings her joy.

Lee Cary Chase and Kahili in Western Dressage at Region 12.
Johanna Husta and Kahili in Dressage at Region 12.

While still undergoing cancer treatment, Johanna paired up with Kahili to pursue the adventure of Classical Dressage as her good friend Lee encouraged.  Johanna and Kahili were a great match from the beginning, which speaks to her skill as a rider and Kahili’s honesty and willingness. Kahili ultimately provided Joanna with a sense of security during her healing journey. Two weeks after her final chemotherapy treatment in March 2024, Johanna and Kahili participated in their first show together. 


Lee, Jesse, Johanna, and Kahili participated in the Region 12 Championships in Ocala, Florida this May. They each showcased Kahili in various disciplines, with Kahili eagerly taking on the challenge, even though it does not seem much of a challenge for this impressive stallion. Jesse, Lee’s spouse, guided Kahili through two championships in the Ranch Riding Open pattern and rail classes. At the same time, Lee competed in the amateur Ranch Riding pattern and rail classes, along with amateur Western Dressage 2nd Level. Lee and Kahili secured a Reserve Championship in the Ranch Riding pattern class, placed Top 5 in the Ranch Riding rail class, and claimed top honors in the Western Dressage Level 2 class. Johanna entered Kahili in her first-ever Arabian horse regional competition in the Classical Dressage Level 3 classes, both amateur and open, achieving third place in amateur category and fourth in the open competition. These teams will participate in the Sport Horse Nationals in September, aiming for continued success. They will also bring one of Kahili’s offspring, a colt named Zee Bruh, who is expected to inherit his sire’s versatility and willingness to compete. 

Region 12 Champions Ranch Riding Open Pattern and Rail Class Zee Kahili++// and Jesse Chase.

Johanna expresses her enthusiasm, sharing with AHW that she is now captivated and eager to acquire an Arabian horse of her own, whether through breeding Kahili to a Dutch Harness Horse or finding a suitable match at Sport Horse Nationals. Johanna laughs, saying that finding a horse that compares to Kahili will be hard. Johanna also tells us that her recent scans and blood work indicate no sign of cancer, and we hope that she continues to receive this positive news. She is scheduled for what will hopefully be her final surgery in November. We are grateful that Zee Kahili++// has become a companion in healing for her. We know he will always have a special place in Johanna’s life. 

Lee Cary Chase and Kahili showing at Region 12 in Amateur Ranch Riding.
Jesse Chase and Kahili showing at Region 12 in Open Ranch Riding.