Hakuna Matata with my Quarter Horse, Nala

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Nala and I at a show.

Quarter Horses are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for April! This breed originated in America, and is known for its athleticism and its ability to excel in everything from horse racing, to western sports, to ranch work, to the dressage arena. 

Dressage enthusiasts who ride Quarter Horses have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is a Participating Organization.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories of what makes this breed so special to them.  Here, a Region 2 rider shares about her adventures with her happy-go-lucky American Quarter Horse, Nala.

By Andrea Wasilewski

Meet All N Time, or Nala, as she is known around the barn. She is by Hotter N Scotch and out of Allocatearising Star. Nala is a flaming red mare, without a speck of white on her, who was bred for the hunter under saddle world. She will be coming six this year and our journey together started when Nala was a two-year-old. At the time, I was trying to step away from the horse world and had recently sold my other horse. One evening, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a photo of an awkward two-year-old filly (at the time, I was convinced I was a gelding-only type of rider/owner). Something about her made me feel instantly drawn to her, and I had that gut feeling that she was a lovely mover despite her awkward baby appearance. About 10 seconds into watching her float around in the posted video, I knew she was coming home with me and quickly forgot all about how I had personally decided to be done with horses for a while. In the video, Nala was incredibly cadenced for such a young age and offered big, sweeping strides with more of an uphill way of going.

The following weekend, I drove the eight hours north to pick her up. From day one, she has been the best-minded partner anyone could ask for and offers a lot of consistency both in the barn and under saddle. She is happy to pack youth kids around, mosey down the trails, hang out in the pasture, and be competitive in both the dressage and hunter/jumper rings. Ride once a day or once a year, you have the same horse. She is my go-to gal for all adventures and has even gone out to chase a cow or two. For fun, since she is so good minded, I am also teaching her to drive a cart. At horse shows, she requires zero prep. She does enjoy a nice hand walk as a warmup in the morning before her class and maybe a quick nibble of grass.

Originally, I was bringing her along to just be a hunter but during the winter of 2018, we boarded with a dressage barn. The ladies there were extremely welcoming to my “off-breed,” and we haven’t looked back since. With such an amiable brain, Nala and I were able to easily switch training directions, and horses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from some good classical dressage training. Under saddle, Nala has been easy to bring along and straight forward in introducing any new movements. Every day, she comes out ready to work and picks up right where you left off, even if she has had some time off.

Due to COVID, I had to become creative in a boarding solution and ended up bringing Nala home. At first, we did not have any type of setup to have a horse safely at home, but we quickly put together a makeshift stall with an attached run. Definitely, not ideal for keeping a horse in show ready condition, but we have rolled with the punches and made it work riding in the fields. After having the winter off due to the extreme cold we had in Illinois, we are confirming First Level movements and starting to school some of Second Level.

Last summer, Nala attended her first USDF show where she earned her Register of Merit with AQHA in open Training Level, which granted her full Quarter Horse papers. It has been an absolute pleasure bringing her along. Nala is also barefoot, having never worn shoes and has been incredibly sound. She is an amateur owner’s dream and a true unicorn. We are looking forward to the future. This summer, we will be focusing more on developing our skills more over fences and confirming our First Level movements – I am a big believer in cross-training to help develop a stronger, sounder riding partner. I have loved Nala so much, that I recently purchased a 2020 baby that is directly related to Nala as a dressage prospect. Looking forward to the future with both of them!

As YourDressage celebrates this breed all month, check out more wonderful Quarter Horses in our photo gallery.

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