Road to the Finals: Ride of Redemption Part III

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Amy Paterson and Wies V/D Klumpert
Region 4

By Jennifer Keeler

As Amy Paterson set out on her six-hour trek to Mason City, IA, for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 4 Championships on September 8-11 , all she could see were ominous skies on the horizon. News from Paterson’s trainer Melissa Allen, who was already at the show, wasn’t any more promising: heavy rain had already forced cancellation of part of the show. But the reassuring voice of Siri coming through Paterson’s iPhone promised that sunshine would make a triumphant return for the weekend, so Paterson pressed on. She had no choice, since competing at Regionals was Paterson’s only chance to earn an invitation to return to the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky with her Dutch mare Wies V/D Klumpert.

Amy and her mom

Paterson was traveling to Iowa with her mother Angela for support since her husband Doug was away. “Doug ‘accidentally’ scheduled his annual guy’s weekend over Regionals so he wasn’t able to make the trip to cheer me on,” she laughed. “But before he left , I was afraid he’d jinxed me: once he found out I was the only Adult Amateur competing in the championship Grand Prix classes, he started to say I was a lock for Kentucky. Fortunately, I stopped him before he opened Pandora’s Box and tempted fate! These are horses after all, and there is never any guarantee Murphy’s Law won’t rear its ugly head and prevent us from qualifying for Finals!”

Paterson wasn’t taking any chances. With people stationed around the competition arena to remind her to drop her whip and to attend the awards ceremony on time, she avoided any eliminations. Both Paterson and her mount stayed healthy and sound (“I even fit into my white breeches, which is always a success!”), and the weather did not wreck any further havoc on the show schedule. In fact, Siri did not lie as by the time Paterson rode her Grand Prix Freestyle on Saturday afternoon, the weather was truly beautiful and the rings had mostly dried out, setting the stage for Paterson’s big moment. “Wie was really with me during my ride, and we hit almost all of our marks with the music (Rhianna’s ‘Diamonds’ and Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’),” said Paterson. “I was so flattered when a rider came up to me and said our ride was inspirational! I don’t think I did much inspiring of people last year when I showed, so that was really nice to hear! When a freestyle works, people really feel it – it’s what makes them so special.” Paterson and her mount earned a 70.375% for first place in the class, successfully punching their first ticket to Kentucky.

Amy with her trainer, Melissa Allen

Sunday dawned spectacularly for Paterson’s second class, the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Region 4 Championship. With Wie giving Paterson the feeling she was looking for in the warm-up, she was antsy to get in the arena before her mare’s “balloon of good energy” deflated. “I didn’t want to leave anything in the warmup, but I shouldn’t have worried,” Paterson explained. “Not only did our balloon not deflate, but a procession in honor of September 11th consisting of emergency first responder vehicles with sirens fully blaring and what must have been about a hundred motorcycles roared down the busy street next to the show grounds during my test. As I’m going down centerline to the sound of sirens and roaring motorcycles, all I could think of was that I was so glad I was riding the trained 13-year-old version of Wie and not the wild six-year-old model!” Despite the distraction, the pair persevered and Paterson came out of the ring with a big smile on her face, with the “best feeling in a test I have ever had on her – I felt like it was a 90%!” The official recorded score which took into account some minor mistakes made was 67.750%, good enough for another win and second consecutive Finals invitation.

Interestingly, Paterson reported that both of her classes were judged by Kristi Wysocki and Natalie Lamping, who between the two of them have judged her at a championship show a total of nine times throughout the years. “Kristi saw us at our very first outing eight years ago at a local breed show where Wie almost bucked me off while schooling during the lunch break,” Paterson remembered. “They are judges I greatly respect, and I knew they would give me a true barometer of where we are in our training – but kind of like asking my mom if she likes your haircut, you better be ready for a true answer! But Kristi wrote on my Grand Prix test that it has been an honor to watch the development of Wie through the years. Her comment brought tears to my eyes, and has made me reflect on the amazing journey I have been on with this horse.”

Amy and Krysti Wysocki

Now in post-championship celebration mode, Paterson is also taking a small break from the saddle – and her diet (“I don’t have to wear white breeches again for two months, so for now I am eating pizza!”). But she needs no reminder to keep her game face on and an eye on her goal: a good showing at the Finals. “I just want to come out of the Alltech Arena this time with a smile on my face knowing I had done the best I could do,” Paterson said. “That will be the best ‘ribbon’ of all.” Will Paterson achieve her goal with a ride of redemption at the Finals? Be sure to watch all of USDF’s coverage of the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® to find out!

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