Tell us about yourself”
My name is Alexa Rodriguez. I am 17 years old and live in Signal Hill, CA. My horse is a 14 year old Westfalian gelding named Fido (Fidelius). He lives in Huntington Beach, CA. My recent accomplishments are earning my Silver Medal in 2009 and 2 scores toward my Gold Medal. I am currently trying out for the Young Rider Team.
When did you decide to ride Dressage and how long have you been riding?
I was born with the horsey gene; My extended family had a famous jumper training barn in Illinois. My grandma and mom were horse fanatics as well. I have been riding since I was 2 years old, starting on ponies and working my way up. I have been in many other disciplines such as western, barrel racing, gymkhanas, hunters and finally dressage and I have to say dressage is my favorite! My last horse, Takin’ a Chance, was a very high strung thoroughbred, off the track. I bought him with intentions to use him as a hunter/jumper when I was 10 years old. I later learned that he was a little “too much horse” for me and decided to take up dressage as a way for both of us to hopefully have a better relationship and maybe even to calm him down a bit. It was so amazing to me to see the difference in Chance as we started to get the hang of being a dressage pair.
How often do you train?
I usually ride 5-6 days a week and take a lesson once a week. Fido is trained to Intermediare 1 and so most of my training is perfecting him and getting him stronger in the PSG/ I1 and not pushing him to the Grand Prix since he is 14 years old. I’ve participated in many exciting clinics with top riders such as Kathleen Raine, David Wightman, Jan Curtis, Charlotte Bredahl Baker, Alfredo Hernandez, and Axel Steiner
Tell us about your horse’s personality:
Fido is a 14 year old 17.3 Westfalen gelding. He is huge to most people but he is such a lap dog! Always willing and just the sweetest! He loves to whinny and talk to every horse around. Everyone at the barn, even non-dressage riders, all know and love Fido. If you see me at shows, it’s even on my license “I (heart) Fido”.
What are you currently doing with your horse as far as showing?
Fido and I are currently trying out for the 2010 Young Rider team. This is my first year and it is so much fun! I had my first show in Thermal, CA in the middle of February. It’s a lot different to try out for a team instead of focusing on just qualifying scores. The girls I’ve met so far, that are also trying out for Young Riders, are so nice and helpful in showing me how everything works. This is my first year trying out so it’s mostly just getting my feet wet and to show Fido at his best!
What is your warm-up routine?
When I show, it’s really important for me to prepare for the first day of the show to settle Fido. I always like to barn walk for about 10-15 minutes before entering the actual warm up arena just to get him relaxed and use to the atmosphere. Once I get into the warm up arena, I continue to walk and start to take some contact on the rein allowing him to stretch downward and forward toward the bit. I’ll work on a lot of extended walk to collected walk to have him in front of my leg and then I start up at the trot again, long and low allowing him to stretch. Once I do that on each rein, I go back to walk but now more forward and active in the walk and work on ranver and travers, keeping him supple. Since were walking it allows me to correct him easily. Then I work on long and low in canter and slowly bring him up for an uphill frame again working on haunches in to shoulder in- making him hot off my leg. I then repeat this at the trot. The purpose of my warm-up is to make sure he is supple, hot off my leg, uphill and thinking forward. That’s exactly where I want him to be.
Who is your mentor and why?
My mentor is Carol Robertson. I was competing at training level when I first trained with her 5 years ago and she has gotten me from training level to competing at PSG/I1 and schooling Grand Prix. I was a very timid rider when I met her and now I am more confident and it really shows in the way I ride. Carol’s shown me that when I have a problem in training, how to improve and strengthen the horse without making any sort of discomfort between horse and rider. She’s taught me about strategy and how to improve the little things in my tests to improve my scores. She’s given me many opportunities that I am very thankful for and it has allowed me to become a better rider. She really has inspired me to want to impress her at every lesson which makes me try a lot harder!
What can you tell other riders about reaching their goal in riding dressage?
I think the best advice is 1. Whatever you choose to do, aim high and put your heart into it. 2. Never stop learning and keep an open mind. 3. Never change what makes you, you.