In the fall of 2021, USDF launched a new way to celebrate excellence – the USDF Diamond Achievement Recognition! To be eligible, riders must have been awarded all USDF Rider Award Medals and Freestyle Bars (bronze, silver, and gold). Here, meet a hardworking Region 6 rider who has achieved this lofty goal.
By Karen Chekenian
Never in a million years did I think I would have the winning bidding on a horse in the Hanoverian auction in Verden. I had been going for years only to walk away with nothing. In November 2006, my luck changed. I won Heartbreaker, nicknamed “Hobbie”.
He was almost four years old and 16.2 hands. The first two years were tough – he bolted, could not be lunged except in a round pen, and had a lateral walk receiving 4s in Training and First Level. In addition, he grew into a 1,450 pound horse. I thought a lot about selling him, on account of the walk which sometimes also went into the canter. I give thanks to my trainer who had a Swedish Grand Prix horse, also with a lateral walk. I decided to keep going but with a change.
I already had my USDF Bronze Medal, but did not have my Bronze Freestyle Bar. So starting out in Second Level, I not only got the bar, but the music somehow helped the lateralness go away – receiving 7s instead of 4s.
When I made it to FEI, specifically Intermediate 1, I again considered selling, due to his size and how hard it was to collect him. He was also VERY lazy.
Once again, in a lesson practicing my I-1 kur, my trainer said to me, “Wouldn’t you kick yourself if you sold him and saw someone else doing Grand Prix on him?” So I kept going – got my I-1 kur scores under a super Glen Campbell theme – with many thanks to LunaTunes Freestyles- and on to Grand Prix.
When I finally reached Grand Prix, that year was the happiest in my life. Not only did Hobbie helped me achieve my USDF Gold Medal, but we also got our Gold Freestyle Bar, earnedReserve Champion Adult Amateur Hanoverian at Grand Prix, and came in 4th place at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships riding to an Abba theme.
And of course, none of this would ever have happened without the constant help and encouragement of my super trainer, Debbie DeWitt, and Hobbie.