Our Interview with Adriane Alvord:
My name is Adriane Alvord and I am a 20 year old dressage rider and currently riding and training out of Halls Choice Farm in New Market, MD. I was born in Munich Germany, where my family and I lived till I was four. While living there, I was lucky enough to start my life as a rider getting lessons on the German ponies and was sitting on horses well before I could walk. From an early age, horses became my life, and they have been my life ever since.
When we came back home to the US my mother got me my first horse Cherry-Cherry Cola, a 14.2 hand quarter horse mare, who was very naughty. Cherry taught me all the ins and outs, and after many broken bones, I had become quite good at staying on. At the age of nine Cherry took me to my first Regional Dressage championship where I quickly saw how much I loved the competition ring and knew that’s where I wanted to be. When I turned 11 my family saw I was ready to move up the levels, and knew I was going to need a more athletic mount. This ended up leading to one of the most influential horses of my life, Benedick. “Barry” came to my mom’s barn to be sold as a bad boy; quickly after he arrived we fell in love with him and ended up buying him. Shortly after the purchase I had the opportunity to ride Barry and we were an instant click. Together Barry and I went from first level to Prix Saint George and earned both my USDF Bronze and Silver Medal with him. Barry was very hot and explosive, and even though there were several upsetting rides along the road (two years in a row I was less than 1% from making the Region one FEI Junior Team ) he taught me to be very focused, calm and patient and to never let your emotions control your ride. In 2010 Barry and I managed a 5th place finish in the FEI Juniors at Dressage at Devon and were the 2010 Jr/YR BLM 4th Level Champions.
In 2012 I was lucky enough to work for both Bruno Greber out of Ashanti farm and Scott and Susanne Hassler at Hassler Dressage. During this time I was able to learn, and work, in a high performance environment and really refine myself as a rider. Due to an unfortunate riding accident the end of 2012, I ended up coming home to recover and realized it was time for me to get a steady income. In 2013 I spent the year as a freelance trainer and drove around northern Virginia riding many different horses and started working with my newest ride Wraven HCF. In less than a year, Wraven went from first level to fourth level, and ended the year at a successful outing at Dressage at Devon and won the BLM 4th level Jr/YR Championship. At the end of 2013 I decided to make the move to Halls Choice Farm to run my own business, Adriane Alvord Dressage, and now have some promising rides gearing up for the 2014 show season!
Our Interview questions:
1. When did you first start riding Dressage?
I’ve grown up riding dressage, my mom is a dressage trainer, so she was putting me in the saddle before I could walk! When I was 7 I started pony club which sparked my interest in eventing, but dressage always was my primary discipline and focus.
2.What is your daily routine for riding, do you get up early to ride or do you ride after school?
I’m leasing some stalls out of a farm in Maryland (Halls Choice Farm) so I get up around 6 every morning and start barn chores around 7am. After all the chores are done I start my riding, which is normally around 10am. Just starting out on my own there are some days that I’m getting off my last horse around 8pm! But most the time I’m done around 5pm.
3.Who was your first trainer and who are you currently training with?
My first trainer was my mom Stephanie Alvord, I currently train with Bruno Greber and Scott Hassler. They both live a couple hours from me, but we are planning to have Bruno come to our farm once a month, and I’m looking to schedule some regular trips up to Hassler Dressage this year! My mom also still gives me eyes and advice, especially at shows that we are both at.
4. What training advice has been the most influential in your riding and why?
Some of the best training advice I’ve ever had is to always ride proactive as opposed to reactive and to always make things very black and white for your horse. It’s not fair to the horse if you react to something that happened two movements ago. Be quick to correct and quick to reward. That way the training, and your aids are very clear, and fair to your horse.
5. Tell us how you warm-up your horse before you ride and your cool down after you ride?
I’m big on going on walks before and after your ride whenever possible. Even if it’s just a short distance, it’s a chance for your horse to relax and get out of the sandbox and keeps them much more eager and focused in the ring. I normally walk either in the ring/ or outside for about 5mins. If the horse is a little up or distracted sometimes i will put them into trot and start riding some figures to get their attention, but the goal is that every horse can come into the ring, relaxed, on a loose rein, ready to work. After I walk I like to give the horses a chance to stretch, I’ll do stretchy work in walk/trot/canter and in some of the lateral work and changes. After they have a chance to get their muscles warmed up ill pick up the reins and start working on whatever I feel is necessary for that particular horse, that day.
6. Do you follow the Pyramid of Training scale in your daily riding?
I defiantly use the pyramid of training in my daily riding, I think it’s very important for any rider to get familiar with the training pyramid and to follow It in the development of the horse. There are no short cuts or skipping steps!
7. How often do you include rest breaks in your training sessions?
I give my horses walk breaks about every 5-10mins depending on the horses fitness and what I’m working on that day. I also like to give them stretch breaks during work, and even the occasional hand gallop down the long side.
8. How often do you clean your tack and what is your favorite cleaner/conditioner you use?
I try to clean my tack every day, I say “try” because there are defiantly some days where it doesn’t get done! But for the most part I keep up on it, because it’s much easier to wipe it off every day than to spend hours cleaning tack the day before a show or clinic! It also keeps the tack in much better shape and increases the longevity of it. I personally love Stubben Hamanol conditioner and moss soap! The combination makes your tack sparkle!
9. How often do you show?
I show about once a month, give or take. Since I’ll be showing more horses this year. I’m trying to plan on a couple shows a month and splitting up what horses go so it’s not overwhelming and I can focus on what each horse needs.
10. Do you braid your own horse’s mane?
Yes I do braid my own horses main. Anyone who knows me, knows not to touch the horses main if I’m showing them! I love braiding, it’s my quite time with my horses at the show, i often put my ipod on and run through my tests in my head during this time.
11/12 I’m my main groom at shows, I’m very particular about everything and I enjoy getting the horses ready so I do most of if myself. I also normally have the horse owners and my mom around if I need an extra hand holding a horse to braid, or some one to wipe boots off!
11. Do you Trail Ride and how often?
I try and trail ride at least once a week, i think it’s important for the horses to get out. It also makes them much braver, if your horse is spooky just pick a spot to walk too and then go a little farther each time. Before you know it your horse will be spooking much less.
14.What are your goals for you and your horse?
My main goal for this year is to make the Region 1 Young rider team with either Wraven HCF of Filaldephia. The PSG is relatively new for both of the horses, so foremost I just want them to have a positive experience And gain confidence in the tests. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to ride and show them, so whatever we qualify for is just an added bonus.
15. What is your favorite musical freestyle performed?
My favorite Musical Freestyle performed is for sure Andreas Helgstrand and Blu Hors Matine at the WEGs in 2006. There was no doubt those two were dancing and that the horse loved every minute of it. I design and create musical freestyles for people, and I always use this freestyle as an example of music that truly fits the horse and rider.
16. Who is your favorite horse and rider?
My favorite horse and rider is Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. They are by far the most elegant pair I’ve ever seen and they are the closest thing to “perfect” that we have in Dressage.
17. What advice can you give other junior/young riders about reaching their goals in Dressage?
Some advice I would give to other juniors and young riders is to never give up and loose sight of your dreams. With hard work and dedication anything is possible, even if it takes longer than what you planned, it will make you a better rider in the end. Also don’t get so caught up if your don’t succeed at first, it’s about the journey and the development of the partnership with your horse. That’s more important than any blue ribbon or medal.
18. What is your horse’s personality like and what is the funniest thing he/she does?
Wraven has the biggest princess attitude/personality you will ever see. We joke in the barn that she is Princess one and I’m Princess two. If you ignore her she will throw her halter at you. She also knows when you have a carrot on you and she will whiney until you give it to her.
19. Please tell us who you would like to Thank for being your best supporters:
I defiantly have to thank my mom, even though we’ve had some tough times, it’s thanks to her that I’m living my passion. She’s always made me want to strive to be a better rider and to never give up no matter what the circumstances are. My grandma is also amazing and is always ring side at shows cheering me on, and if it wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t have had Benedick, who was the most influential horse I ever had. I also have some amazing clients and friends who are always there to support me. doing Juniors/YRs over the years has also given me some amazing friends/supporters to last a life time. When things got rough in my life the YR community really helped me get back on my feet and I cannot describe how grateful I am for that.
20. What is your favorite quotes?
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”