Monday, September 29, 2008
The Road the the CSDEA Dressage Festival
I must give credit to Ellen Hoffman, owner of Worth the Wait, for
persuading me to compete in recognized dressage shows this
season. In August of 2006, when I received a call from Ellen asking
if I would start her 3-year-old Oldenburg,Worthy, I jumped at the
opportunity, and began working with Worthy immediately.
Worthy turned out to be a very quick learner, a great mover, and
a smart horse. I worked on a lot of training basics with him, from
longing, to in-hand work, trail rides, jumping, bareback rides and
more.There wasn’t anything the horse was spooked by.We would
ride next to the road as big trucks and motorcycles zoomed by,
and he would stay focused and working hard. He is a type of
horse that really loves to work. He is sensitive, and willing to
work for you, and as long as you don’t pick a fight with him, he
will give you his all.
Ellen wanted me to make Worthy into a good fit for her, so I did
my best and put him to the test.We dipped our feet into the
event world a little in the spring, but soon realized he preferred
strictly dressage.This was perfect for Ellen, as she wants to show
in dressage. So we switched gears, and began to really focus on
Worthy’s dressage career.
Although I have been an event rider for most of my riding career,
I love dressage.This year at the Maui Jim Horse Trials, there was
a vendor selling simple t-shirts with quotes on them, one of them
being: "Eventing - Making bad dressage look good." Yes, it is true,
there are a lot of eventers out there who compete in the sport
primarily for the cross country phase. Without the dressage
scores, however, it is hard to win consistently. Dressage is
important. I find that a horse with a solid dressage base will jump
better on the cross country and in the show jump ring, and will
use its body more correctly in general.
My goals for the year included getting my USDF Performance
medals at Training and First levels, and also receiving my Bronze
Medal. I began the dressage show season with Otter Creek's
spring show, the May Flower I & II.
I made my dressage debut on my own horse, Lady Hannah B, at
2nd and 3rd level. I also debuted Worth the Wait (aka Worthy,
owned by Ellen Hoffman) at his first show at Training and First
levels. I was hooked! The horses brought home a variety of
different scores and ribbons, and I had a blast.
At the end of May,my training horses and Hannah came home for
the summer from where they had wintered (Otter Creek Farm,
and Hay River Equestrian). Ellen Hoffman was able to relocate
Worthy to Kathy Theissen’s training barn, Brightonwood Farm. I
continued to ride Worthy when I wasn’t in Grand Rapids, MI,
working with my trainer, Philippa Richards, or away at horse
shows. Kathy Theissen took over training Worthy, and Ellen took
lessons with Kathy.When I was able, I also brought my horse,
Hannah, over to Brightonwood Farm for lessons with Kathy.
My next dressage show was the St. Croix Dressage Classic, held
at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo, MN. I opted
to only show Worthy this time. It was a rainy,muggy weekend, but
we didn't let the weather put a damper on our spirits.Worthy
worked the dressage ring like he had been doing it his whole life.
By the end of the weekend, we were 6-for-6 in blue ribbons -
quite an accomplishment for a young horse in his first show
season! At this point,Worthy was well on his way to earning his
USDF Training Level Performance Award.
Our next show was the Parkside Dressage Show, held at Alpine
Farms in Long Lake, MN. I rode both Worthy and Hannah at this
show, riding in classes from Training to Third levels. As usual, in
July, it was a very hot weekend, but all the competitors kept
pressing on. I have ridden at Alpine Farms for their hunter/
jumper horse shows. CSDEA's Parkside Dressage show there
was just as fun, and very well organized.
Two weeks later, we were off to the Washington County
Fairgrounds for the Midsummer Dressage Show. I rode Worthy,
Hannah, and a new one, Cover Story (aka Kelso), owned by
The Road to the CSDEA Dressage Festival by Liz Lund
The author and Worth the Wait, aka “Worthy” achieved many
goals in 2008.
Jennifer Johnson DVM. All the horses were great, and I had
received my final scores needed for my USDF Bronze Medal.
My next dressage show was the USDF Region 4/Midwest
Championships. This was my first dressage championship show.
Worthy put in a stellar warm up class, only to be a completely
different horse for the Midwest Championship class. Horses are
horses, and you have to ride what you have. In that class, I had
what Worthy probably should be most of the time: a young,
spooky, green horse. He made up for it the next day by maturing
overnight, and receiving second place in his warm up class, and
eighth place in the USDF Region 4/Great American Insurance
Championship class. Overall, a great experience, and, as is usual
with the Brightonwood Team, a fun time!
As the end of the season closed in, my final dressage show was
the CSDEA Dressage Festival. I rode on a team with Kathy
Theissen and Sarah Travis. The week before Dressage Festival,
both Kathy and Sarah had put some serious training rides in on
Worthy to prepare for the show, as I was now at school full-time,
and traveling every weekend. With some nice tests, and scores
staying in the upper sixties, we received 3rd Place in the Team
Championships. Kathy and Sarah’s help over the season has been
tremendous, both in Worthy’s training, and my riding.
It was such a wonderful experience at Festival this year. The
Festival Under the Stars rides were amazing, creative, and so
much fun to watch! There were a variety of rides, from musical
kurs, to bull fighting, dancing and vaulting. Not only was it a fun
weekend, but we actually had nice weather. For anyone that
knows me, every single event that I have been to this year, it has
rained.Two even cancelled the cross country due to the volume
of rain. This year hasn’t been my year in the event world, but I
sure had a blast meeting all of my goals in the dressage ring.
By the end of the dressage show season,Worthy had received his
USDF Training Level Performance Award, I had received my
Training and First Level Rider Performance Awards, and also
achieved the USDF Bronze Medal.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in my dressage
endeavors this year. I will not name anyone as I feel I would most
likely leave someone’s name out, but a big thanks to my
supporters, family, friends, clients, students and most of all my
At each dressage show, the Brightonwood Team made me feel a
part of a team. It was fun to have friends cheering you on at
ringside,willing to read a test at the last minute, or helping polish
your boots after you have gotten on your horse. I have had such
a fun time this year at the dressage shows, I just might be back
My goals for next year are to continue showing Worthy at
Training and First level, focusing on getting the high scores he is
capable of on a consistent basis, moving my mare up to Fourth
level, and working on getting some of my scores for my USDF
Silver Medal - and hopefully having as much fun as I did this