By Ally Wo
Wrandom Star is a beautiful, black, 13-year-old mare, with a distinctive white star on her forehead and deep caring eyes. She is the only horse that I have ever owned or competed with, and she is my best friend.
When Wrandom first came to us, she was skittish because of the new surroundings and faces. She didn’t trust anyone, or let anyone pet her, because she was abused and neglected when she was very young. It took many, many weeks of calmly talking to Wrandom and showing her my affection and love. She needed to understand that she was in a safe and friendly environment. The day that I gained her trust meant the world to me. When she finally let me pet her soft, raven-black face, with the little white star between her eyes, for the first time, it felt like the beginning of a new chapter for us. I can always rely on her to brighten my day.
Our goal for this year was to win an Adequan®/USDF Year-End Award and to attend the Salute Gala and Annual Awards Banquet at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention in Lexington, Kentucky. I declared Wrandom for the Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International all-breeds category, and wanted Wrandom to know that I thought she was a special and talented horse, far removed from the abuse and neglect of her youth. We wanted to achieve our goal so badly, that it motivated us to work hard as a team and put in our best effort.
Though growing up in Hawaii is such a blessing, with it’s beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and scenic views, there are few options and opportunities for competitive English riding. Hawaii has a very strong Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) community, but our dressage season consists of only four competition weekends, with eight one-day shows in total. Along with that, dressage season in Hawaii starts in April and continues with shows in June, August, and September- the hottest months of the year. This meant that Wrandom and I need to be healthy and ready to perform our best at each show, because there is a very small margin of error for success.
I have currently been riding for about three years. I began with hunter/jumper for a year, and then switched to dressage for the past two. Last year, I competed in Introductory Level, and this year, I rode in Training Level with Wrandom. Showing is really stressful to me because the Aloha State Dressage Society (ASDS) brings in national judges from the mainland, that each have their own preferences and particularities. I worry that, if I perform poorly on one of my show weekends, it will be difficult to wait another month, for the next show, in order to pull up my scores. For example, this year we got off to a strong start in April, but had two mediocre show days in June. It was hard for me to wait so long for another chance to redeem myself, and finish strong, in August and September. With so few opportunities to show, each competition takes on a magnified significance to your overall score. Therefore, when show season is over, Wrandom and I work really hard to prepare for our next challenge. But I know that, in the end, showing is all about bonding and spending quality time with my horse and the people who love me. I am so proud of Wrandom because she always tries her very best.
With only a few days each week purely dedicated to riding, it can be challenging to put in the practice necessary to improve. I ride after school and on the weekends, returning home in the dark at around 7 o’clock, in time to have dinner with my family and finish my homework. And not only do I horseback ride, but I also dance ballet four times a week, and have danced with the same studio since I was three years old. With school, horseback riding, and ballet, it can be very tough to stay organized and manage my time. Thank goodness my parents, sister, and brother are always there for me, making sure I stay focused and on task. Without them I would not be able to train and spend time with Wrandom, and for that I am truly grateful. My life is certainly very packed, but, when you are doing what you love, it doesn’t matter.
I was so happy to hear that Wrandom won her Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds award, and that we won Reserve Champion for Junior/Young Rider Training Level, achieving our goal and making it possible to attend the USDF Salute Gala and Annual Awards Banquet. It was such a great experience to be in the same room as Grand Prix winners and living legends of the dressage world. I have never been around so many horse lovers and English riders, and meeting so many national winners from all around the country was truly amazing. It was an experience that I will never forget.
I wish Wrandom could have come to Kentucky and gone up on stage with me, to accept our awards together and experience that special moment. She is the most gentle, loving, and caring horse. We have faced everything together, from injuries and disappointments, to accomplishments and reaching our goals, but most importantly, we have created a lifelong friendship and trust.