Road to the Finals: Ride of Redemption Part II

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Amy Paterson and Wies V/D Klumpert
Region 4

By Jennifer Keeler

After braving the jump to Grand Prix only to be rewarded with a disappointing showing at last year’s US Dressage Finals, Region 4’s Amy Paterson knew she needed to make some dramatic changes in order to have a chance at redemption in the Alltech Arena. In this case, those dramatic changes included driving across the country to train in the equestrian mecca of Wellington, FL.

“After I came to terms with what happened at the Finals, my husband Doug encouraged me to take Wie to Florida and train there for the winter season. Have I mentioned how wonderful he is?” laughed Paterson. “So the day after Christmas, Doug and I packed up like the Clampetts of the Beverly Hillbillies, loaded Wie in the trailer, and began the 22-hour drive to Wellington.”

Reward for their efforts. Wie wearing a blue ribbon from the Global Dressage Festival.

Escaping the snow in her hometown of Lee’s Summit, MO, afforded Paterson the incredible opportunity to work with some of the sport’s best riders. “I had the good fortune to work with Allison Brock and also took a few lessons from Shelly Francis,” she noted. “I wasn’t in full training and only averaged about a lesson a week. But that gave me time to really process what each trainer suggested in order to continue our progress.” This proved to be a successful strategy—when Paterson and her Dutch mare rode in three national competitions in Florida, the pair won all but one adult amateur Grand Prix class with scores ranging from 62% to 69%. The debut of their new freestyle earned an impressive 70% score.

“I did not have any coaching at the shows, and did this all by myself—literally—no help at all from set up, tacking up, schooling, just me…alone…with Olympic riders and trainers all around,” she explained. “It’s not something I would recommend to another adult amateur rider, and not something I would do by myself again, but I have to say I am really proud of what my horse and I accomplished. It was an invaluable experience to be able to show consistently and gain my confidence back after the disappointment of our 2015 show season.”

They did not travel light for their trip south to Florida.

On their way home from Florida, a rejuvenated Paterson and Wie stopped in Georgia where they earned their final qualifying scores for the Great American/USDF Region 4 Championships in September, before taking a well-deserved break. But before long, the summer show season was underway and the pair returned to the arena for additional mileage. Shaking off the cobwebs, they cantered down centerline at the KCDS Summer Dressage show in Kansas City on July 17-18. “It was extremely hot for the show that weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much energy my horse had,” Paterson said. “In Florida, Ali Brock sent me home with the task of getting Wie more fit, and I think we are getting there! After the issues I had in last year’s Finals class, I am much better about running through the test, so didn’t feel too rusty at least for the Grand Prix. The freestyle had a couple moments when I felt like I was re-acquainting myself with the music and timing, but overall it felt pretty good. It was wonderful to show at home again, and it was great to have my family, trainer and friends there to cheer me on.”

With her final prep competition completed, Paterson now turns her attention to final plans for the Region 4 Championships in Mason City, IA. “I can’t fit another recognized show into my schedule between now and Regionals, so my job will be to stay tuned up and run through the tests prior to competing again. I plan on going over to my trainer’s barn to run through the tests a few times, maybe go to a schooling show to keep us sharp, and I plan to have my mom video tape me as much as possible. It helps so much to see our training sessions. I am also on the obligatory ‘white breeches diet’ and starting to watch what I eat, walk and ride more to lose a few pounds. Nothing like wearing white breeches to keep you honest about what you eat, and I have to at least try to look fabulous for the Finals!” she laughed.

Every year when riders and horses from across the country gather in Lexington, KY, for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, they not only bring top performances to the Alltech Arena – they also bring amazing stories. From overcoming tough odds, facing life’s daily challenges, healing from medical and veterinary conditions, or simply being the unlikely underdog, the tales which unfold at the Finals are nothing short of inspiring.
Through the good, the bad, and the ugly that entails life with horses and competing in the sport of dressage, these three riders will allow readers behind-the-scenes access as they try to qualify at the 2016 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championship, to pursue their dreams of competing with the best of the best at the Finals.

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