Gifted Memorial Fund for Adult Amateurs Recipient: Beth Dinoff (Region 4)
My trainer, Kate Kostenbader, and I chose June 27 – July 1, 2022, for our intensive week of dressage training with the goal of increasing my confidence as a rider. However, when opportunity presents itself, sometimes plans must change just a little bit. On June 18, 2022, a dressage schooling show was happening at Winds Reach Farm, where I board Topaz. So, we started training specifically for the show in early June. I rode the Intro Test A. Topaz received a final score of 63.75%. We even scored 8.0 on medium walk, straightness, and balanced transition at halt. The judge commented “Nice finish.” Here’s what it looks like when you get to ride your first dressage test in front of all your barn-mates, friends, and trainers while your pony did everything that was asked of her. I should add – the equestrian who rode after me was a delightful 4-year-old girl. It was perfect!!!
During our TDF Gifted Fund for Adult Amateur grant intensive training week, I believe I absolutely learned how to step forward with my horse. And we continue to step forward with each passing week. For example, previously I lacked the confidence to go trail riding with my mare because I wasn’t sure I would know what to do if she got frightened. And now, we go for a beautiful hack every day after we complete our training goals! I have learned to trust my horse, and she has started trusting me. I can now trust that we are partners in this dressage space together. My aids are clearer, and Topaz is more responsive to the aids. Barn owner, Bill Coester, noted “Beth, I think you are truly riding bravely these days.” I have even cantered on Topaz several times. A couple of weeks ago, I took two lessons in a biomechanics clinic with Julie Christie. She taught me how to sit with balance in the saddle, which isn’t easy with severe scoliosis. Immediately, Topaz also became more balanced!! Every day I feel so proud and happy to have finally learned how to ride my horse. I am truly amazed at the growth we have made because of the generosity of The Dressage Foundation and the Gifted Fund Adult Amateur grant. I will be forever grateful to have been selected for this award to work with Kate Kostenbader.
The events of the TDF week:
June 27: Beth observed Kate give lesson to beginner dressage student on 6-year-old horse, Beth lessoned with Kate on Topaz, working lunch to review both lessons and watch video of lessons, complete daily journal entry.
June 28: Beth lessoned with Kate on Topaz, working lunch to review lesson and watch video, complete daily journal entry, discuss reading assignment from book “The Rider’s Balance: Understanding the Weight Aids in Pictures” by Sylvia Loch.
June 29: Beth lessoned with Kate on Topaz, working lunch to review lesson, watch video, complete daily journal entry. Discuss reading assignment from Loch book. Beth observed Kate give lesson to same horse/rider as we saw on June 27.
June 30: Beth observed Kate give lessons to two riding instructors who are learning dressage. Beth lessoned on Topaz with Kate, working lunch to review lesson, watch video, complete daily journal entry. Discuss reading assignment from Loch book.
July 1: Beth observed Kate give lesson, Beth lessoned on Topaz with Kate, working lunch to review lesson, watch video, complete daily journal entry. We spoke at length about the experience and benefits of intensive training.
I received permission to change one major element of our proposed lesson plan given that we struggled to find a proper schoolmaster during the summer. Fortunately, I was already making significant progress with my riding confidence. And much to my surprise, I was invited to ride in a 2-day clinic with FEI equestrian and trainer, Anne Cizadlo. I enrolled in the clinic and took two powerful lessons with Anne. We worked on getting Topaz to stretch over trot poles and really move her shoulders. We practiced keeping Topaz on the bit and in the proper frame.