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  • Writer's pictureKristie Cotton

If you can dream it, You can do it

Horses are an expensive hobby, there is no getting around that. I was very fortunate to have forced my way into the horse world. I was obsessed and I worked hard to learn all I could about Horsemanship skills. I believe it was a privilege that my foundation of learning was always Dressage. I loved any type of riding but the methods always taught to me were strength, balance, and an independent seat. When people ask me what my background with horses is, I am not exactly  sure what they mean..I want to answer, ”stall cleaning.” It was a childhood dream of mine to teach young riders. I was able to have a successful riding school for a few years.I attempted to instill empathy towards horses with my students.


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The lessons were affordable and it was always the same group of kids.I think about this group of kids so much, I never realized the impact each and every one would have on my heart. I guess they feel the same as they have kept in touch either with cards, or facebook.  Healthy Hobbies are so important, not just for kids but adults as well. I would love to have a riding school again as I worry about Horsemanship skills seeming so out of reach financially. I take a few students now, but school horses and facilities are limited. Well, honestly, I am just very particular about how my horses are cared for…

If you are a trainer or instructor and you receive an inquiry from a young rider looking to learn, willing to work in  trade for lessons, please do not ignore. I am not saying you should be charity but to know that you fulfilled the dreams of someone not as fortunate financially, is beyond rewarding.  I had five awesome school horses that could teach confidence in any discipline. Western, Dressage, and Jumping. Of course now there is Western Dressage which all of us “English Cowgirls” had been practicing for years already. Dressage, no matter what type of saddle you are using will always mean education for the horse. Dressage is gymnastic exercises meant to strengthen and supple,while creating a focused demeanor.

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The earliest work on training Dressage horses was written by Xenophon, a Greek Military Commander born around 430 BC. “Just as a house would be of little use, however beautiful its upper stories, if the underlying foundations were not what they ought to be, so there is little use to be extracted from a horse, and particular a war-horse, if unsound in his feet, however excellent his other points” “Anything forced is not beautiful” This is advice from a Horseman over 2000 years ago.

I  do feel as though Dressage has been exploited as a sport or exhibition, attainable only to the wealthy. People are paying over $ 80,000.00 for a Dressage horse, for their kid to be able to show and, expectedly win.  This keeps those that are like I was, discouraged from believing in their dreams. If you are a parent of a horse lover, but cannot afford for your kids to even touch a horse, they will never stop begging. Passion always finds a way, especially when it comes to horses. There are programs that help underprivileged kids riding and learning. I wish I was one of those programs, but someday…

Then there is the horse owner that does not believe their horse can do Dressage. Maybe they were told they have the “ recipe “ without the ingredients.  Let’s remember Dressage is training that can take a mediocre mover, and turn them into an extraordinary athlete, if done correctly. Carl Hester paid almost $ 4, 500.00 for Valegro, who is now known as the greatest Dressage horse in history and is now worth over $ 3 million. Of course that’s team Hester for you, but pay attention to the little “ secrets “ He gives away.  If Carl had not accepted Charlotte’s persistence on staying at his yard, proving that She would work very hard just to learn whatever She could from Him, there would not be the awe inspiring  ” Team Hester. ” Together, they have brought the Art and beauty back to Dressage.

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 My oldest daughter has loved horses as her hobby since she was young. All three of my Children ( Two are now adults ) know how to ride and handle horses. They have had to work around the barn, and enjoy trail riding with me. My eldest daughter has always loved the thrill of showing, competing, and winning.When she was 7 years old, She really fell in love with a pony I was training to be a trail horse. He was an Arab/ Pinto, usually referred to as a “ stumpy little pony. “  I was a very busy trainer during that time and every time I got on a horse, Lizzie would say “ can I ride Lucky? “ I tried to stall her by saying “ Fine, if you can tack him up yourself,  you can ride him. “ I did not think She could do it by herself as he could be ornery.  She returned 15 minutes later tacked up and ready to ride. I will never forget her persistence. Lizzie wanted to compete at the 4H shows with the pony…I allowed her to do Showmanship to ensure her safety. ( She would only have to lead the pony around ) I was coaching another student that had her own horse at the show. The persistence set in again of Lizzie begging to show the pony under saddle. She had set it up to where she could borrow my student’s saddle, and whatever else was necessary..” fine” I think I was secretly attempting to protect her from that horrible word “ failure. “  Turns out Lizzie would never learn that word, she won everything, always from that day on, with that pony!

I think She was 10 years old when she had her first  “love at first sight “ It was a Belgian/paint cross that was 6 months old. We bought him for a very cheap price, He was the cutest!  Lizzie dreamed of showing him at the 4H shows as well,  he was 3 years old and the best trail horse ever! When He was five years, She began eventing with him and I never worried about them, He always took care of Her.

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Lizzie became very interested in Dressage, she loved the art, beauty, but of course, the competitions. Lizzie had big dreams for “ Mr. Bojangles “ It’s good to have dreams but Lizzie never looked at goals with a realistic approach.

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 When She told me She was going to win “Horse of the year “ I attempted to sugar coat the answer, “ I don’t think you can do that, there are so many fancy, expensive horses out there showing…” Again, I was attempting to protect her from the reality of what money can and can’t buy.  Lizzie never backs down “ Well, I am going to at least try, and you can train us “ She has always had more faith in my training than I have. There we were at every show, up against every fancy horse that had been training year round in elite facilities. We trained in a field. At the shows,  Horses were spooking at her horse, they had never seen a “ painted “ horse before! Others were using his calm demeanor to steady their nervous horses. Test after test, her highest score at Training level was a 70% Riders are so harsh on Judges but they can only Judge what is happening in front of them. If you drill your horse to perform like they should in a test, you will have nothing but a tense, resistant mover in the show ring. Interval, gymnastic training is what will supple your horse. Of course having a combination of Lizzie and Bo was nothing but a partnership of harmony. He loved to show off and knew when it was his time to shine, then there was Lizzie determined as ever to accomplish her goal of winning everything. In 2014, Lizzie and Mr. Bojangles won the United States Dressage Federation Region 5 Championships. They were also Reserve Champion for the local region. Mr. Bojangles was recognized as Grade Horse of the year. Lizzie also won Third place overall Horse  of the year in the Jr./ Young riders. Now when she has goals, I know to admire her for what She will most likely achieve.

After some physical setbacks, Lizzie is making the journey to Her latest goal. She has always wanted to own a nice Warmblood and ride in the upper levels…” We could never afford a Warmblood, you better get a decent career for your goals.” I reminded Her often.  ” Lizzie in her persistence, found a Warmblood for very little money. She was being sold as a broodmare due to her behavior/ lameness issues. ” I know you can fix her ” We bought the mare, assuming She would have a nice foal to fulfill the dream. That foal wasn’t meant to be, so I fixed the Mare using motion therapy, based on Dressage exercises to address muscle imbalance.

Lizzie will be competing Summer 2019 in Prix St George, which is the beginning test at international level. Lizzie is not seeking glory, she has the heart of a warrior, a triumphant attitude, needed to conquer dreams.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve.”  Quote by Norman Vincent Peal

Title quote by Walt Disney

Click on link for a beautiful article written about Lizzie and her success with the warmblood ❤

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