Encourage Young Riders

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I walked into our TV room at home the other evening and there sat my 10-year-old daughter watching the American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm on NBC Sports. I have to admit that made me really happy. I sat with her for the next 30 minutes, watching each ride and listening to her comment on which horse-and-rider pairs she liked best. She reminded me of, well, me some 30 years ago—glued to anything remotely horse-oriented.

Dressage-Today-November-2015-Zoomie

This month’s issue gives nod to the youth who have made horses, specifically the sport of dressage, their passion. One of those kids is Catherine Chamberlain, America’s top Young Rider from Murrieta, California. In “Leg Yields for Relaxed Transitions” Chamberlain offers exercises to help improve your horses’s reaction time. She says, “Every transition between gaits requires freedom in the horse’s body so that he can easily change from one rhythm to another. This freedom comes when the horse is relaxed, intent on his rider’s aids and bearing weight on his hind legs. In a good transition, the horse should feel like he lifts you calmly into the next gait. Even in a downward transition he should give you this upward feeling.” You can read more on p. 28.

After hearing from a top Young Rider from California, we turn our attention to Lamborghini (or “Zoomie”)—a top Young-Rider horse on the East Coast. This 16-hand Danish Warmblood, originally purchased as a spicy 6-year-old (hence his name) by Grand Prix trainer Pam Goodrich, has taken several Young Riders, including his current owner Jocelyn Wiese, up through the levels to Grand Prix. But more importantly, the horse’s playful attitude and willingness to work have earned him a permanent spot in the hearts of these riders. Now a 19-year-old schoolmaster, Zoomie lives on Martha’s Vineyard with Tracey Olsen, who recently rode him in his 60th Grand Prix and earned a score of over 69 percent. Read “The Horse of a Lifetime” on p. 42.

Our next stop is in the Lone Star State where Yvonne Kusserow, the German-born and -educated head trainer and barn manager of Rocking M Stables in Dallas, Texas, noticed the need for youth to gain an understanding of dressage so they can grow to thrive in the sport. Today, she teaches more than 80 students, the youngest of which are around 6 years old. Learn more about Kusserow’s program on p. 40.

There’s more in this issue, but I leave you with this: The next time you come across a horse-crazy kid, remember to encourage her (or him). Take time to answer her questions and pique her curiosity. After all, we need her enthusiasm to cultivate our sport for generations to come.

Until next time ...

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