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2018 Tumlin Recipient: Alexandra Gee

I recently completed my training funded by The Dressage Foundation’s Evie Tumlin Memorial Fund Grant for Region 9 Adult Amateurs. This grant gave me the opportunity to spend an intensive period of time training with Marta Renilla, an international Grand Prix competitor and trainer based in Houston, TX. During my time shadowing Marta and my four dressage lessons, I can confidently say I met my training objectives. Marta helped me take serious strides toward (1) affirming my Second Level work, (2) preparing to compete at Third Level, and (3) expanding my network within Region 9. 

During my time shadowing, I observed the rigor with which Marta manages her business. I observed the excellent collaboration of her team and hard work ethic they brought to their tasks. The days all started before 7:00 AM, and the energy that Marta brought never slowed down until it was time for the day to end. With careful time management, Marta was able to squeeze multiple rides, lessons, and work with sales horses into her day. I observed a high level of care and professionalism as she navigated meetings with potential horse buyers and showing off sale horses. For every ride and lesson, Marta brought a gentle, but serious demeanor to nurture both horses and riders. Based on my experience shadowing, I know I can look toward Marta as an example for excellent horsemanship and business acumen. My experience at The Woodlands Equestrian Center (WEC) also exposed me to other equestrians within the Region 9 dressage network.

My first lesson was on a Warmblood schoolmaster. In this first ride, I spent time adjusting to the size and gaits of a Warmblood (compared to my Morgan), and learning the subtle differences in training. After I adjusted to the scope and tempo of her gaits, we spent time practicing the correct angles for lateral work focusing on shoulder in and half pass. I discovered that my past approach to these movements didn’t include the correct balance of my upper body, and my body position was too exaggerated. 

My second lesson was on my own Third Level Morgan mare, West River Hollyhock, AKA “Holly.” Much of our time was spend confirming Holly’s understanding of Second Level movements, then started focusing on the quality of her gaits. While Holly’s conservative gaits were acceptable at Second Level, I spent time learning what the real expectations are for Third Level gaits and how to access them through improved balance and correctly riding back to front.

My third lesson was on a PRE schoolmaster. In this lesson I focused on preparing for and executing flying changes. Since flying changes are one of my greatest challenges, it was a treat to learn better timing and balance on a horse that already understands them. I learned that I wasn’t correctly preparing for the change before suddenly asking for it, with the added challenge of miss-placing my balance too fat forward. This lesson taught me better aids to prepare my horse’s mind and balance before asking for a change with the correct balance. We also spend time practicing working pirouettes.

My fourth and final lesson was on Holly. Now that I had a better feel for the gaits I should be asking for, we spent time carrying those expectations into our transitions and lateral work. This was such a rewarding lessons since it proved what Holly and I are really capable of, and gave us plenty of tools to bring back and practice.

I’m so grateful for this training opportunity and for the donors to The Dressage Foundation’s Evie Tumlin Memorial Fund for making this possible. I met my training goals and learned tools I can take back to practice in my own riding, and pass to others.