By Annie Trice
RCL Apollo Hancock and I started our journey in a national women’s training competition in Oklahoma in 2014. It was essentially a colt starting and progression competition where you had to feature liberty, ranch riding, and cowboy dressage. I had never done dressage at the time so I needed to figure it out for our competition! Come to find out, my horse had a lot of potential for dressage. One trainer told me, “He is a ranch horse, he won’t make it in dressage, it is too political, you should stick to hunters.” Well… that was the motivation that took me to, “I am going to achieve my USDF Bronze Medal.”
I like a good challenge; I had a great horse, and it would improve my riding and training skills. Little did I know that dressage would become a passion, and with it a desire for the continual achievement to be better- for myself and for my horse. In 2020, we finally achieved our last scores to our Bronze, and it felt amazing!
“Apollo” is a ranch bred Quarter Horse with great bloodlines in Hancock foundation lines. He was bred to work cows, work the ranch… not exactly dressage. But he was the perfect example to prove my theory that a ranch-bred Quarter Horse can do anything you put in front of them.
My horse is my partner, truly. He fills in the parts that I am bad at as a rider, and I fill in the cracks where it is harder for him to do a movement. He puts up with me learning, as I have never ridden a ‘done’ dressage horse, just him, and as we continue to get to each level. The other amazing thing about my horse is that he also works as a therapeutic riding horse. There are times that our therapeutic riding program needs a horse, and he performs amazingly, helping riders with special needs enjoy equine assisted activities. One year, we were late to BLM Championships because he had to do a therapeutic lesson before we left!
This achievement of our Bronze Medal means a lot to me, because I proved that my ranch boy and I could do it – in spite of us not being ‘cut’ for it. But we now are big advocates for the discipline. Dressage is truly a discipline that demands your best, and I am truly grateful for how it has shaped and molded both myself and my horse.