Road to the Finals: Ride of Redemption

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Amy Paterson and Wies V/D Klumpert
Region 4

By Jennifer Keeler

How do you go from the glory of riding Grand Prix in the biggest show you’ve ever attended, to having the worst test of your life? Would you have the courage to put it all on the line again and pursue a ride of redemption?

That’s exactly what Amy Paterson is determined to do.

Paterson’s family owns Greenwood SportHorses in Lee’s Summit, MO. An accomplished adult amateur competitor in Region 4, Paterson also works full-time as a mortgage loan officer with NBKC Bank. “My entire family is involved with the horses, starting with my dad Bob Stuhr who is the ‘head tractor driver’ and arena groomer extraordinaire,” laughed Paterson. “My mom Angela also rides and has a wonderful FEI schoolmistress – she is a great supporter and good ‘eyes on the ground’ for me. And last but not least, my husband Doug may not have a background with horses, but he is incredibly supportive and is my #1 cheerleader!”

With the help of her trainer Melissa Allen, Paterson has taken her former “fire breathing dragon” Dutch mare Wies V/D Klumpert all the way through the levels to Grand Prix. “I’ve had ‘Wie’ since she was just six years old and at a very green Third Level in her training,” Paterson explained. “She could trot like an auction horse and sort of do a flying change each way, but she was very hot and was missing a lot of basics. With a lot of hard work on both of our parts, she has turned into a wonderful, reliable amateur’s horse, and even though sometimes I wish I still had all that energy for the Grand Prix where she needs it most, I’m quite happy not to be sitting on a live wire anymore. I remember a few years ago schooling her at Lamplight Equestrian Center in the Chicago area before a show, and Wie was absolutely electric! I walked out of the ring thankful to have survived, only to find my husband asleep in a chair next to the ring. I was like honey…really? You should have been standing by the ring with a net!”

With their collective energies channeled in the right direction, Paterson and Wie claimed USDF Adult Amateur Champion awards at Third, Fourth, and Intermediate 2 Levels, as well as a multitude of Region 4 Championship titles. Then in 2014 Paterson realized her dream of attending the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky, where she and her mount were crowned as the Intermediate B Adult Amateur National Champions. “It was an amazing experience, and a moment I will never forget,” she remembered.

But as Paterson quickly discovered, success in the sport of dressage can be fleeting. “After how well we did at the Finals in 2014, I figured, eh, how hard could Grand Prix be?” she said. “Well, surprise! It’s really hard! Showing Grand Prix for the first time in 2015 was sort of like when I took college calculus — it takes more than just good notetaking and “good looks” (on my horse’s part) to do well. You have to have some real skill, help, determination, and support to be a good Grand Prix rider.

Amy Paterson with mom and dad

“But we prevailed and qualified once again for the Finals, so I returned to Lexington to ride in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur division with stars in my eyes,” Paterson continued. “Unfortunately, I had a dreadful test – by far the worst fail in my dressage career to date. Every movement with a double coefficient (and there are many, many, many of them in that test) was botched. After coming in with expectations of glory, I ended up last in the class and utterly deflated.”

But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Paterson overcame her disappointment and for the last nine months has “been on a mission to return to the Finals for a chance at redemption!” But how far will she have to go for an opportunity to ride for glory in the Alltech Arena once again?

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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