I’ll keep it brief in the interest of being non-boring. I’m a 40-something dressage rider living in North Carolina for the second time, trying to balance my life with horses and my life besides horses! I began riding at the age of 7, at Hope Lock Farm in Easton, Pennsylvania. I think lessons on a schoolie were $8 an hour (how times have changed). Like most of us, ahem, riders-of-a-certain-age, I began my riding career hunt seat, but have dabbled in western, competitive trail, combined training and fox hunting along the way. It was fox hunting with a friend while I was attending veterinary school at NCSU which peaked my interest in combined training, which ultimately narrowed to focusing on just dressage.
After vet school, I practiced equine medicine for several years in the northern Virginia area. Not only is this area rich with beautiful horses of every discipline, but dressage specifically is well represented with ample opportunity to find good horses, good training, and good competition.
A change of jobs for my husband brought us back to NC in 2006, just before the birth of my daughter. I decided to work part time in a small animal veterinary setting so there would be more of me to go around for the family, and who are we kidding, my riding pursuits. In 2008 I joined the board of the NCDCTA as a member-at-large, and was elected Vice President this year.
To date, I’ve only attended one GAIG/USDF Region 1 Finals–in 2006 on my TB/Clyde cross Kryptonite (James) where we placed a very respectable 5th out of an intimidating 46 entries at Training level, and just out of the ribbons with a good score at First level–all while 10 weeks pregnant. Luckily, here in Region 1, we also have the “alternate” BLM championships which I’ve successfully attended twice–in 2005 with James at Training level and in 2008 with S’More Art (Graham) at Third level.
My current ride is Brav-o (Bravo), a 2004 Hungarian Warmblood gelding whom I’ve owned almost a year now. He is the consumate high-end sports car of horses–little, quick and nimble, fancy, and most importantly, temperamental and difficult to maintain! Working with my coach, Becky Blikslager, our training together has improved leaps and bounds, despite several incidences of downtime while Bravo was “in the shop” (Oh, horseshoes, thou art my nemesis). My goals for this competiton year are lofty: 1) qualify for and compete at the GAIG/USDF finals at Williamston in Training level, First level, and First level Musical Freestyle; 2) rank #1 USDF All-Breeds with the Hungarian Horse Association of America; 3) not get killed in the process.
To date, we’re well on our way. We are currently qualified at Training level, and have 1 of our 2 required scores at First level. This weekend, at the Summertime Blues Dressage competition (also in Williamston, NC) I will also debut my First level Musical Freestyle, and if I’m lucky, get a qualifying score as well. If not, well, there’s Raleigh Summer Dressage the following weekend!
Next time–the report from Summertime Blues–hope we don’t melt!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to join the conversation via the comments.