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Trip Harting Fund 2020 Recipient: Ashley Dimmette

Ashley, Ryder, and JJ Tate
Photo credit: Becca Swann

I would like to express my many thanks for receiving the Trip Harting Fund Grant for Pony Club Graduates in 2020. I used the grant to ride and train with JJ Tate on my 5-year-old Hanoverian, Ryder. While the original plan was to travel to JJ’s farm in Tryon, NC, to train with her in June, COVID-19 had other ideas. These training plans were put off for many months with the uncertainty of the pandemic. As quarantine lifted, I decided to seize the opportunity and host a clinic with JJ at my home farm in Sanford, NC. I was able to take two lessons with JJ over the weekend and audit many more. I came away with a tremendous amount of new information and lots of homework!

Riding 5-year-old horses comes with plenty of challenges, as many of you know. Progressing a young horse’s education during growth spurts and teaching them about having a work ethic can be frustrating at times. Even though I had to delay my training plans with JJ for quite a few months, the timing of the lessons in Ryder’s developments could not have been more perfect. During the two-day clinic, JJ helped me navigate through some “baby” moments and really get Ryder forward off of my leg. We worked on riding forward and straight while making numerous small adjustments and transitions within the gaits. JJ had me ride through various exercises that improved Ryder’s ability to sit on his hind end and not pull me around the arena on his forehand. JJ kept telling me to ride with my “FEI seat” and sit back, which I think about often, and to “ride the horse you want him to be.” My goal is to train Ryder up the levels, so having that picture in my head to ride him like an FEI horse has helped immensely! Riding in the two-day clinic and auditing many other lessons gave me new inspiration in my own teaching. Learning new exercises that I have been able to pass on to my students has been fantastic.

JJ’s positive teaching style and encouraging words have helped me so much in the months after our lessons together. I left the clinic with a new determination to keep going with Ryder’s training and to not lose faith on the tough days. Since then, I have been able to clinic with JJ again and take Ryder to his first show of 2021, where we scored in the 70s at Training Level. The clinic last fall was the jumping-off point to help me refocus and reenergize after a tough first half of 2020. JJ emphasized that you “just have to keep chopping the wood." You have to keep putting in the work and eventually, little by little, progress will be made. I am slowly starting to see that progress! I would like to thank The Dressage Foundation and the Trip Harting Fund donors for making this educational experience with JJ Tate possible. Ryder and I are very grateful, and I am looking forward to the 2021 show season and passing on the knowledge I learned at the clinic.

The Trip Harting Fund provides an annual $1,000 grant to a current or graduate rider with a Pony Club Certification of A, B, or C to attend an educational event of his/her choice.  Preference will be given to riders with an A or B Certification. The online application and required documents must be received by TDF on or before March 25th. A final decision will be announced by May 1st; therefore, the grant must be used for an event that falls after May 1st of the year in which you apply.  The recipient will have up to one year to use the grant.


Ashley and Ryder at Spring Time Dressage Show
Photo credit: Drew Draper