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28 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Gold Rush

Rider learns valuable lessons in quest for medal

Michael Bradtke

Heather Black on Cooper V on her way to earning her USDF Gold Medal. Changes in her pre-show routine and how she approached her ride brought her success and satisfaction in the ring.

Heather Black The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) has a series of awards called the USDF Rider Awards. Riders must earn two scores of 60% or higher from two different judges at certain levels to obtain the awards. A bronze medal is awarded to a rider who earns the required scores at 1st, 2nd and 3rd level. A silver medal is awarded to a rider who earns the required scores at 4th level and Prix St. Georges. A rider who earns the required scores at Intermediare and Grand Prix receives a gold medal. Grand Prix is the highest level in dressage competition and represents the ultimate in collection, strength and precision from a horse and rider.

Seen in the Olympics, the test includes movements such as a canter half pass zigzag, canter pirouettes, one and two tempi flying changes, piaffe, and passage. A Grand Prix horse needs to have a



certain amount of natural talent and receives years of training. They are a rare find, and I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ride Danish warmblood Cooper V in my journey to earn my silver

medal in 2011 and my gold medal in 2014. During my first Grand Prix competition, I barely scored a 60% toward my USDF gold rider medal. I was worried I would go off course. I was afraid I would make mistakes in the dreaded canter half pass zigzag, the one tempi changes, the piaffe, and the passage. I over-schooled on the Friday before the show, determined to figure out my timing issues I’d been working on for months, in one session. The session ended with a tired horse, a frustrated rider and no improvement on my timing issues. During the test itself, I was so distracted by my focus on what was coming up, whether it was where to go or how I could possibly pull off 15 one tempi changes, I gave insufficient attention to the simple details of my ride: riding a square halt,

Florida Sporthorse Winter 2014  

A quarterly magazine dedicated to Florida's dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing, combined driving and sport horse breeding communities.

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