Peter’s Got This

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Sweet Seniors! In October and into November on YourDressage, we are celebrating the special horses in our lives that are ages 20 and up through photo galleries and exclusive stories. Join us all month long as we celebrate the ‘Golden Oldies’ of the dressage community!  Here, a Region 2 adult amateur shares the incredible journey she’s been on with the horse she brought up the levels.

By Kathy Rizzoni

Faraday, aka Peter, is a 2000 Oldenburg GOV gelding by Fernet Branca (Furioso II) out of a Trakehner mare.  I bought him in 2009, when he was going Intro/Training Level.  I was a complete newcomer to dressage and he was a lot of horse. Peter is forward and can be quite spooky, especially in the winter. I’ve heard from people who knew him when he was young that he was feral, bordering on dangerous – and if I’d known that, I probably wouldn’t have bought him.  He didn’t even start to settle down until he was around 14 or 15, finally becoming a much steadier guy at around age 17.  I think that his spiciness is what is keeping him young and sharp at 22. With lots of great help, we have gone up the levels together over the 13 years that I’ve owned him, and Peter has made so many of my dreams come true – I’ve earned my USDF Bronze Medal and made seven trips to the US Dressage Finals with him. I’ve learned an incredible amount about dressage from and with him, and have made wonderful friends in the dressage community because of him.  Having a horse that I’ve taken up the levels means that we are truly a team, and while it’s taken us a long time to do it, doing it together with him has been meaningful and fulfilling to me. He is truly my best friend.

Photo credit: Photography by Kelly & Kelly

I’m a not-very-fit, middle-aged (maybe old, at this point!) adult amateur, and learning how to sit the trot was truly challenging for me! Peter and I spent six long years at First Level – largely because I couldn’t sit.  I finally started the Dressage Rider Training program that I’m sure you’ve seen on Facebook, and I got the core strength I needed to be able to sit the trot.  I also started training with Jennifer Roth, who has taken many students to their medals, and who is a genius at putting changes on a horse.  Peter finally got his changes at 17. Since then, in addition to earning my bronze on him, I’ve also gotten my Fourth Level scores for my USDF Silver Medal.  We’ve competed and placed often at Great American/USDF Regional Championships and, until my illness, had an unbroken streak of seven consecutive trips to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, where we sometimes placed (often didn’t!) and keenly felt what an honor it was to be there.  Qualifying for Finals seven times with the same horse is something I’m very proud of.

Then, at the age of 60, I was diagnosed with Stage III cancer, and spent most of 2021 in treatment: chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgery, and a long slow recovery which I’m still working on today.  While I was in treatment, a friend leased Peter and she too earned her USDF Bronze Medal and Fourth Level scores on him. This year, as I’ve been recovering from treatment and getting fit again, another friend showed Peter at two shows, earning her USDF Bronze Medal, and a Fourth Level score, as well! Not bad for a 22-year-old horse who didn’t even have a change until he was 17.  I’m incredibly proud that the horse I’ve taken up the levels has turned into a schoolmaster.

Peter’s new job is to help me regain my fitness and get back into the competition ring.  I’m back up to riding four or five days a week most weeks, and even if I need to take frequent breaks, he is right there with me, with his wonderful attitude and work ethic. This summer, I showed once at Second Level.  The joy of being back in the show ring with my best buddy was priceless and I may have cried on my way back to the stabling after my first test, but I’ll be honest – the last day of that three-day show, I was beyond exhausted.  I was trotting around the outside of the ring thinking that I needed to scratch; that I didn’t have the strength left to make it through that test.  But then there was Peter, telling me loud and clear, “don’t worry Mom, I’ve got this.”  And he did. 

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