A Tale of Two Disciplines

“Through the days of love and celebration and joy and through the dark days of mourning…the faithful horse has been with us always.”

~Elizabeth Cotton

Sarah Morris, here, and the above quote pretty much sums up my life. Riding has played a huge role, yet with both parents allergic to horses, it was a pre-school field trip that introduced my sister and I to this wonderful world.  After a few lessons with my trainer, Melinda Hyde, my sister and I were hooked – lessons became regular and we began to participate in shows.

When junior year of high school arrived, my mom, sister (who switched from saddle seat to hunt seat L), and I looked into our high school’s equestrian team and, when everything appeared as though it would work out, my sister and I leased horses and got excited for the season to start. I leased an 8 year old Morgan mare named Wildchild. She was a little crazy and challenged me in ways I wasn’t expecting, but we became a team and, in November, 2007, I became the overjoyed new owner of HDP Wildchild.

Wildchild and I at our very first show.

Horse show seasons move quickly and before I knew it, Wildchild and I debuted at a Class A show at the fairground in Mason, MI. Unfortunately, we didn’t place where I’d hoped, but my trainer told me it was the best ride I’d had on her and then I was given the opportunity to show another horse, Bellagio, in the Park Saddle Stake Class where we received the tri-color ribbon and I experienced my very first victory pass. Nothing can compare to that feeling.

During my senior year of high school equestrian team, I was placed on the C-Team with 4 other girls and we went on to participate in Regionals, where we placed third.  It was a wonderful bonding experience and a great way to end my high school career. We definitely went out with a bang!

That spring and summer found me riding a lot of horses at a lot of shows.  I placed third with JDS Absolut Flaire in English Pleasure Saddle at the first show of the season, at the Michigan All Morgan Show, I showed HDP War Dancer in the Classic Pleasure Driving and the Classic Pleasure Saddle divisions, and then, at the Morgan Futurity Show, I was handed the chance to show JDS Paladin Pazazz in the Park Harness Amateur class.  We won the class – what a way to end my summer!

The very next day (literally), I packed up my mom’s van and we headed off to my new home at Albion College and my new equestrian discipline of dressage.  Boy was it different!  Dressage was a whole new world that had been hidden from me all these years, but I made the team as an Introductory level rider and vowed to learn more.

It’s safe to say I’ll never forget my first dressage show.  It was an entirely new environment and I remember saying multiple times, “This is completely different from my shows.”  I believe I placed ninth at my first dressage show and my team placed third overall. It was a fun, new experience.  At the end of last year, our A-Team made it to the Intercollegiate Dressage Association Nationals and I ended the season with a group of new friends and skills.

Nothing compares to the thrill of a victory pass!

…which brings me up to this past summer.  Once home, I used my newly learned dressage skills to perfect my saddle seat riding and was given the opportunity to show JDS Absolut Flaire in the Classic Pleasure Saddle Junior Exhibitor Division at Morgan Gold Cup Regional Show.  I also showed him in both the Saddle and Driving Divisions at the Morgan Bluegrass Show and we placed in top ribbons in all of our classes.  Currently, we’re headed to the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Show this October.

The school year has started and I’m ready to learn more about dressage.  I’m now riding in the Lower Training division for the Albion dressage team and look forward to our first meet.

For now, I believe I’ve spilled my entire horse-involved life story. I will be sure to keep you posted with the new stories from this school year.

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