By Sarah E. Coleman
Photo Credit to Lisa Dean
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
NWS: As early as I can remember! Most vividly before I could ride on my own, I remember renting ponies at Iroquois Park in Louisville, and my awesome stepdad running around leading me as I said “faster, faster!”
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
NWS: I was 12—he was a grade walking horse named Bo.
MSEDA: What horses do you have?
NWS: I have Gold Style and Tucker, both retired Thoroughbreds that packed me through my hunter, eventing and dressage exploits. I also own Shiny Tiny Dancer, or Lucy, who my daughter, Lilli, and I share. She is a Red Dun Quarter Horse mare. (I have never owned a mare! Let alone a red-headed one!)
MSEDA: How did you get your horses?
NWS: Gold Style was my engagement present from my husband when a prior horse was retiring; Tucker is Jess Woodall's old three-star horse. Ellen and Tony Huffman (who had already hooked me on reining), of Spinning Arrow Quarter Horses, owned Lucy—she was actually Tony’s personal reiner. They asked if I would show her in some hunt seat classes at a few open shows. I began showing her in both hunt and western, and the rest is history.
MSEDA: What horses do you compete and what do you compete in?
NWS: Lucy is the only horse competing these days; she shows in the NRHA, AQHA, and IBHA (buckskin) including reining, ranch riding, hunt seat discipline rail, western command, lead line with my daughter and western dressage....oh and costume with my daughter, too.
MSEDA: How did you get involved in Western Dressage?
NWS: With the help of my family, I had just bought a reiner for my daughter and me to share. She is a nice mover and we were already doing patterns, and with my background in dressage and eventing, it was a great fit and filled my want to get back to those arenas.
MSEDA: How long have you been competing in Western Dressage?
NWS: We started in the fall of 2014 at KDA.
Photo Credit to Lisa Dean
MSEDA: You took a roundabout way to get to this discipline, can you explain that path?
NWS: I actually grew up riding western and continued in that discipline through college, riding on the bot the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky IHSA teams. When I got pregnant and couldn't jump anymore, a long-time friend and (now) trainer, Ellen Huffman, got me involved in reining. In 2014, with a newly purchased reiner and my event horses retired, I found western dressage an awesome opportunity to get back to the dressage ring while still earning NRHA, AQHA and IBHA points. The biggest smile I have ever had on my face in a dressage ring was the first time I jogged down centerline!
MSEDA: How long have you been a MSEDA member?
NWS: I rejoined this year because of western dressage! Prior to that, I was a member while showing the Thoroughbreds, but took some time off as their careers ended and I became a mom.
MSEDA: Who do you ride with?
NWS: Spinning Arrow Quarter Horses, Rachel Miles and Cat Fortener for dressage. We also participated in our first western dressage clinic with Sharon Vander Ziel this summer.
MSEDA: Where do you ride?
NWS: Spinning Arrow in Shelbyville, Ky.
MSEDA: What level do you compete?
NWS: Novice Amateur and Green Rider in reining; I have been finishing up at the Basic Level in western dressage with good scores in Tests 3 and 4. I hope to start working on Level 1 this coming spring.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
NWS: Any and All! But carrots and peppermints will get rid of her grouchy stall face.
MSEDA: What is your favorite show? Why?
NWS: I love taking part in the Blackhorse Stables show series; it’s a great atmosphere and fun, relaxed time to work on your scores. Thanks to Rachel Miles and team for adding our classes! KDA has been a big supporter of western dressage at their shows as well. New this year, we also attended the IBHA World Show--this was an experience at the C Bar C Expo in Cloverdale, IN. We came home with our first buckle together, a Reserve World Championship in Hunt Seat Discipline Rail and a top five in Reining at the same show.
MSEDA: Do you have any good luck rituals?
NWS: Yes, visualizing my ride and talking through how I will ride each pattern (especially in reining).
MSEDA: What do you do to support your horse habit?
NWS: I am the Veterinary Sales Manager for Standard Process, Inc. We make a line of vet-only supplements for horses, dogs and cats. I spend my time educating vets and sales reps on the role of nutrition in veterinary medicine while managing a team around the country who does the same.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
NWS: Horseware, Ariat, Woof wear, and so many more now that I’ve added western clothing and tack....
MSEDA: What are your horse's quirks?
NWS: Her stall is her castle. Don't even walk by! She has a bubble that also exists in the warm-up pen--the "princess” as we call her prefers other horses to stay out of it.
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
NWS: In reining, we have a lot of work still to do on our spin; it's a been a sticking point for the two of us this year that finally came together in the ring at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) for what I think was our best yet (then I blew the rest of the patterns!). It was our last run of the year in reining, so I am itching to get back at it. In western dressage, I would like to move up and show at Level 1, as well as attempt to show Lucy in Hunter Hack and Western Riding again.
MSEDA: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome with your horse?
NWS: Does being a red-headed mare count? Still over coming this one--I've never had a mare. Lucy is quite opinionated and sure of her status in life. I have to be proactive or she will make a fool of me; she has lots of buttons and will throw in extra changes at my slightest shift, give me extended trot when I ask for lope, OR just decide she's done and stop, not going forward despite how much I kick. In fact, when we see a pony not going forward we say, "Look it's pulling a Lucy!" And don't get me started on how I'm going to get those ears forward on our fast circles…
MSEDA: Describe your horse in 10 words.
NWS: Princess, red head, pretty, forward, indolent, good mover, talented and above all, priceless (she wore purple flapping wings while taking care of my 3-year-old). She knows and changes demeanor with my Lilli, then runs hard for sliding stops for me--and she is only 7! She started packing Lilli at 2 years old, when Lucy was 6; she even wore antlers for her then!
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory?
NWS: The costume lead lines with my daughter, getting my first real slide in the Alltech Arena (where the big NRHA guys were showing) and now learning to make those slides bigger--but most of all showing what a well-trained Quarter Horse can do in multiple arenas, especially dressage, no matter what tack you ride in!
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
NWS: We have a Havashu named Madison and two cats at home. We are also currently borrowing Booger the wonder pony for Lilli from our best friends. The Beckman's trusted us with his care and we are forever grateful that Lilli can be his kid for a while!