Here is our interview with Ben Winger:
My name is Ben Winger and I live in Montgomery, Texas. I am 16 years old and am currently competing two horses, Madoc Garetth and Madoc Dylan. I have been riding for 13 years and want to keep riding for many more to come.
When did you first decided to ride dressage and when did you first start riding:
I first started riding at the age of three on little welsh hunter ponies. My sister was the one that got me into riding. Every time we went to the barn for my sisters lessons I would beg my mom to let me ride. So eventually she got me some lessons and I have been riding ever since. I did hunters for six years and then my trainer decided to switch mainly to dressage so I decided why not try this dressage stuff, I heard so much about. A few years ago we moved out to the country and my dad built me and my sister a barn, pastures, and an arena, but unfortunately this was the time I was thinking about quitting so I didn’t use it all that much. During this time my mom pushed me to keep riding because she said it kept me out of trouble and she always knew where I was. Thanks to her I am where I am. My first dressage horse was a four year old welsh cob named Madoc Prince Philip and I was told that he would be my project and I could train him for the summer. I did and he was successfully sold to a young girl. Then my trainer decided I should try for the junior rider team. This really sparked my interest for the upper level stuff. I love to watch the grand prix and one day I would like to reach that level. That is when I decided that this is exactly what I wanted to do and nothing else could be as fun.
Who are you training with:
I train with Nancy Hinz of Yellow Rose Dressage in Montgomery, Texas and Pamela Goodrich of Foster Meadows whenever she comes for clinics. I have been with Nancy for 13 wonderful years and hopefully for many more years to come.
How often do you train:
Right now I ride 2 horses, so I am at the barn every day after school and Saturday and Sunday. But usually when I’m not so busy I’ll be there every day of the week except Wednesday and Sunday.
What is your warm-up routine:
My warm up routine consists of getting my horse forward to my hands, quick off my aids, and straight through his shoulders. A lot of turn on the forehand and leg yields to loosen up his back and body and also to get his hind legs underneath him.
Tell us about your horse and his/her personality:
I actually ride two horses right now, one is a 13 year old 15 hand welsh cob named Madoc Dylan the other is a 6 year old 15’3 hand Chestnut welsh cob named Madoc Garetth. Dylan is a very laid back boy that never spooks at anything, he is so calm and always so concentrated its great because nothing ever bothers him. Gary is a little more spirited than Dylan which is more fun to me because I like the hot horses more. I recently showed fourth level on Dylan and got my first score toward my silver medal. I have also shown Gary at training level which he does very well at. Gary is the one that acts like a little kid I was taking out his braids at our last show and he had his head resting on my chest and his eyes were half closed and every time id make him move he would get upset and throw a tantrum then go back to sleep like a little kid. Dylan is still so much fun to me because he is at a level that most welsh cobs never get to thanks to the careful training of Nancy and his sire Kentchurch Chime. I thank Nancy for giving me the privilege to ride these two amazing horses.
Do you go trail riding:
We do not have many trails at my barn but I take them for walks and jogs up the drive way and through the woods to get them used to things they normally wouldn’t see. Gary, even though he’s a little spazzy, loves these times out of the arena the most. Dylan is used to pretty much everything I throw at him so he just likes being out of the arena.
What are your goals with this horse:
My goals with Dylan are to compete at fourth level and PSG next season to try and get my scores for my silver medal. My goal with Gary is to advance him up in the levels and get him used to showing, also to sell him for his owner.
Who is your mentor and why:
My mentor is Nancy Hinz because she is such an amazing person. She is such a nice and caring person as well as being an amazing rider and trainer. I wish I could be half the person she is. She is one of those people that you meet and you’re like yeah I want to be just like that person when I grow up.
What can you tell other juniors about reaching their goals:
Other juniors need to understand that even if you do not reach your biggest goal the first time around you can work on smaller ones while still working on the big ones. If you do not get it the first time it does not mean you are a failure or you did not try hard enough you just might not have had the best of luck that time around. Keep pushing towards your goals and NEVER GIVE UP!!
What is your favorite dressage movement:
I have three favorite movements I love to do one, two, three, and four tempis they are so much fun. Canter pirouettes are also amazing to me because you can just feel all the power of the horse underneath you for those few seconds. Extended trots are also great because the image of the horses floating along looking effortless gives me goose bumps.