By Kris Blacklock
One is never too old to learn and have fun! Although I always adored horses, it wasn’t until I turned 45 that my daughter Michelle and I jointly purchased and started riding our first horse, a Morgan gelding who’s now 23 years old (and still actively ridden)! Now, at age 60, I actively compete in western dressage, in-hand, freestyle, trail, working equitation, drill team, and obstacle challenges with Gambler’s Jackpot, my ten-yearold Rocky Mountain Horse, and Boon Ocean Blue, a four-year-old Quarter Horse. My riding goals are to use the progressive training of dressage to develop confidence, balance, and athleticism.
I’m active in Region 2, serving as a USDF Participating Member Delegate, as well as being a member of NEW Dressage Association (NEWDA) and Wisconsin Dressage & Combined Training Association (WDCTA). I’m also a Region 5 WE United Working Equitation Director, who loves to bring awareness of dressage to all ages, rider levels, and breeds by networking with equestrian groups, supporting horse/rider knowledge, skills, and goals, and recognizing personal goals and achievements of others. For the past four years, I’ve submitted video applications, organized practices, choreographed musical freestyles, coordinated breed and discipline demos, and setup hospitality displays that showcased a variety of disciplines, horses, handlers, and riders. I’ve also participated with both horses (gaited and non-gaited) at the Midwest Horse Fair – an annual four-day event held in Madison, WI, attended by 65-75 thousand attendees from across the United States and the world.
As an active member of several equestrian organizations, my passionate love of dressage, and its value as a foundation to all disciplines, is evident. I try to always offer fresh ideas, actively promote horsemanship, and host a variety of educational activities, clinics, and events. I also coordinate live and virtual dressage shows that offer in-hand, lead line, traditional, western, and working equitation dressage tests. Working equitation employs classical dressage principles, progressive horsemanship, precision, obstacles, speed, and supportive camaraderie.
I love to showcase the versatility of gaited horses. Throughout the year, during live and virtual shows and breed/discipline demos, my gaited Rocky Mountain Horse’s eagerness to learn, good-natured demeanor, and desire to excel is evident. He has demonstrated that gaited horses, with a solid foundation in correct classical approaches, can hold their own in dressage. Jackpot won the 2017 award for High Point Rocky Mountain Horse competing in Working Equitation and Reserve High Point Award for Region 5 Gaited Horses of all breeds competing in the sport. As an equine ambassador, Jackpot blazes a trail and is able to break through perception barriers that otherwise limit gaited horses. He inspires and encourages versatility in others by being active and successful in a variety of disciplines. He’s also a willing partner in gaited horse demos and clinics. For the past three years, Jackpot, who hauled two hours each way for weekly practices, was the first gaited horse on the Kettle Moraine EZ Riders Drill Team in Southeast, WI, and was asked to be on the Kettle Moraine Rough Riders Equestrian Drill Team in August 2016.
Our newest quest is competing in working equitation. My initial introduction to it came in 2016, when I attended a five-day intensive seminar offered by the Pedro Torres Academy of Working Equitation, USA in Woodstock, IL, with Academy Head Instructor Nuno Matos. I was quick to see the potential of the sport and its link to dressage.
I encourage you to dream, inspire, and achieve with your gaited and non-gaited equine partners!