Fritz has made a lot of friends through his dressage journey, and he is excited to share all of his accomplishments with those friends. He plans on sharing great information and insight through his journey to becoming an FEI Level dressage horse. His human, Una, will be along for the ride and share in those accomplishments because apparently you need a rider to complete a dressage test.
I have had my horse, Fritz, for nearly 6 years now. I got him from a local rescue and paid $700 for him in early 2010; he was 6 at the time. He is American Warmblood by registration but Hanoverian by breeding. We had a really rocky start to our relationship but have finally hit our stride together.
When I first got Fritz, he bucked nearly every ride and I just wasn’t enjoying him like I should. After somewhere around 8 months or so I sent him to a cowboy for a month to try to help work out some of the kinks. And it helped. He still would throw fits sometimes for no apparent reason. And his go-to move if he spooked (or fake spooked to get out of work) was bucking and bolting at the same time. But it was much less frequently and not quite as severe as it used to be. I saw so much potential in him though, and I knew there was something really special about him. I decided it was worth working through and figuring out.
Fast forward about 2 years worth of just fun riding together and that’s where we started our dressage journey. We started with Intro walk trot tests at schooling shows alongside Training Level in 2012. I decided I liked it and wanted to pursue it further. I had only ever trained and shown Hunter/Jumper prior to that so dressage was new to me.
I started working more seriously on Training Level and showing at recognized events in 2013. Towards the beginning of show season we (he) had such a large meltdown at home that Fritz threw me off for the first time in quite a while and unfortunately fractured my T3 and T4 vertebrae, as well as separated my shoulder slightly. Not to mention all the bumps and bruises I had from the fall. My trainer helped me keep him in work a couple times a week while I was down and out for a few months. I showed Training Level a handful of times after getting the OK by my doctor and did pretty well considering the tenseness on my part (which definitely caused tenseness on his part).
In 2014 we started working towards First Level. We were solid in all the movements and I was excited to start showing. We showed First Level a couple times that year. There were a couple decent tests and a not-sodecent test. We got the two scores needed at First Level for the Bronze Medal. At this point I moved into a new barn and went into more serious training.
We started schooling Second Level that winter and started showing Second Level the following show year, 2015. Fritz also got his SI’s injected by CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Erin Contino to make his lumbar back more comfortable. Something Fritz and I have always struggled with is that he can get pretty tense, and that reflected in some of our scores during show season. He even got spooked so badly by an oversized umbrella with a lady attached to it that sort of jumped out from behind the judge’s box, that we exited the arena by jumping over one of the letter boxes. The judge gave me some compliments on sticking it out and asked if Fritz was an FEI schoolmaster; that was nice to hear after such a rough ride. But we did manage to get our scores at Second Level for our Bronze Medal. I was traveling for a week for work, and my trainer decided to try to put flying changes on Fritz while I was gone. He took to them like he has been doing them his whole life. So we entered a show at Third Level just to see what would happen. I only did two Third Level classes and it was the happiest Fritz has ever been at a show. We scored 61% (and some change) on both tests after only having flying changes for a week and a half (and I had only gotten to ride them once! before the show classes). I couldn’t believe it. I earned my Bronze Medal in that show. I was over the moon!!!
We now have a new beautiful brown Equipe Olympia saddle from Equipe Central USA, and it has made a huge difference in Fritz’s way of going as well as my connection to him when riding.
We are schooling Prix St. George with some I1 work as well, and we made our FEI debut during the 2017 show season.
I have had the opportunity to ride with some amazing trainers and clinicians including Lars Petersen, Betsy Steiner, Kathy Connelly, Andreas Hausberger, Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez, Julie Burt, Shelley Lawder, Kathleen Raine, David Wightman, and others.
Not only did I do something I never thought I would do as a rider; I did it on a horse that I paid $700 for, from a horse rescue. And not the easiest horse to ride, either. I am so proud of myself and my horse, Fritz. Even though we have had some major “downs” he is my heart horse and I know we will go far together. And those downs only make the ups that much sweeter and the hard work so worth it.
My goal is to eventually earn my Silver and Gold medal, all on Fritz. And with the way things are going we are well on our way. We look forward to sharing our journey with you!