Shared Birthday – Shared Experiences

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Pony power!!  This month on YourDressage, we are celebrating ponies of all breeds.  Dressage riders who choose ponies as their mounts are eligible for many Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as there are several pony organizations on our Participating Organization list.  Here, a Region 1 rider shares about her birthday twin pony. 

By Caitlin Allen

Silver Lining (Chase) is a 1999 Welsh Pony/Thoroughbred originally from Connecticut. We actually were both born on June 1st, 1999, so we will both be turning 22 soon! Chase had a super rough start. At age 3, he was broke for jumping, but was being jumped 3 feet at a young age. He was then sold to a horse dealer in Florida and then was bought by a rider in New Jersey at age 5  who would have him as her childhood pony. However, upon learning of some unacceptable issues and allegations of abuse at the facility where he was being kept, he was immediately removed and became a dressage pony at a quiet barn in North Jersey. Since then, he was never handled badly and was an amazing partner for this rider! He had a year off to recover from his experience and got to do aqua therapy since he was in rough shape.

He eventually was sold to a dressage barn in North Jersey, since his owner could not afford two horses. She is friends with both myself and my trainer on Facebook, so we get to see him in action! Our partnership began after he and his now best friend, Crown Royal (ROY), were purchased by Nearfield Farm  from the dressage barn in North Jersey. Chase and Roy became my partners in my senior year of high school after the loss of the horse I was riding to colic. With both of them, I was able to achieve my Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association (ESDCTA) Bronze Medal and try First Level, before I would be unable to show for the next four years. Chase specifically taught me the most about riding a horse who can be spooky, sensitive, and needs to be ridden classically and correctly.

Together, we did, probably, the fastest Training Level dressage test ever, zooming through each movement and making sure to throw a buck if I touched him just a bit too hard with my leg or whip. He makes sure to tell you when you’re giving him too much information, which has really helped refine my riding and made me more adaptable as I rode other horses in the barn. Without Chase, I would not be the rider I am today, and I cannot thank him enough for how great of a pony he has been. Every time he has challenged me, he has improved my riding.

We have both experienced trauma in our lives and have similar personalities, which may be why we work out so well and then sometimes clash. Information overload causes both of us to shutdown, we both can be super anxious, and we can have our attention be all over the place. This has led to a lot of personal growth, as I have grown into an adult. I’ve learned how my own emotions reflect onto horses and, each time I go home, I can see the difference in how I ride and how I handle horses. I’ve learned more about how and why horses react to certain things, transforming my approach to horsemanship, which evolves everyday as I learn more and more about animal behavior and my own influence.

Chase now teaches the Rutgers Dressage Team students, and I make sure to ride him and visit him every time I am home. I will be moving out of state to pursue my cybersecurity career and continuing my dressage education at Felle-Vallee Dressage in Vermont, but I will always make sure to get a few rides in and spend every second I can at the barn when I take off to go home!

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