Brooke Mancusi


Our Interview with Brooke:

How did you get started in Dressage?

I started riding at a local barn during their summer camp program and fell in love.  At that time I rode dressage as well as hunters.  After a brief time in hunters, I began riding only dressage.

Where do you currently ride at?

My situation is a little bit complicated!  I ride in Cave Creek, Arizona at Rancho Estancia from October – June, and we relocate to get out of the Arizona heat from June – October, to Arroyo Del Mar in San Diego, California.  In the USA I have my 9-year-old mare, Extravaganza and my 10-year-old gelding, Wellknown. To make things more complicated I am a Canadian and I go to school in Winnipeg Canada.  At home in Canada, I ride out of Pine Ridge Equine Park where I keep my 20-year-old gelding, Danao.

​ What is a typical day at the barn for you?

A typical day starts with bonding with my horses.  I do not have a groom and take pride in the fact that I can take care of my own horses.  I also feel it is important to groom my own horses as it develops a special bond with my four-legged partners.  I groom my horses in preparation for my daily lessons, I generally have a lesson with each horse, unless I am in Canada where I ride on my own.  Some days the horses require lunging.  After each lesson I clean up my horses and ice their legs as a preventative measure.  While they are icing I clean my tack, do any horse laundry, pull any long manes etc. Depending on where I am I also ride some horses as a favor for my friends.

Who do you study with currently and the best advice he/she has given you?

I ride with Ashleigh Luca-Tyson.  She has given me lots of good advice but I think the most important is how she has built on my character.  Through Ashleigh I have learned to really ride my horses and how to work at training my horses.  I have learned the importance of learning to ride properly for the long term and not just to get through a test or to move on to the next level.

Are you a working student for your Trainer and what do your duties consist of?

I am a working student for Ashleigh during the summer months when we are in San Diego.  My duties consist of grooming the horses for riding, putting them away, cleaning tack, preparing food rations, doing laundry, meeting with farriers or vets. Sometimes I am able to ride the horses when she is away teaching clinics etc.

How many days a week do you train?

I ride five days of the week; four are in lessons with Ashleigh.  When I am in Canada, I ride five days a week without a trainer.

What does your warm-up consist of?

My warm up consists of walk; trot and canter, making sure to stretch the horses, making them supple and ready to work.

Do you follow the Dressage Training Pyramid on a daily basis?

I am mindful of the levels of the training pyramid and realize that the different levels help to achieve a light and responsive horse.  That being said I don’t specifically think, ok this is level one, this is level two and so on.

What do you feel is the most important part of riding Dressage?

I have learned that riding Dressage is more than riding the fancy tricks.  The most important part is riding to have a supple, elastic horse that is accepting of the bit so that you are able to have the impulsion and collection to be able to ride the movements properly and gracefully.

What kind of personality does your horse(s) have?

Each one is so different!  Extravaganza (Zara) is a princess, it doesn’t hurt that she is beautiful.  She loves to cuddle and snuggle on the ground, and can be very jealous of her ‘brothers.’  Wellknown (Wellie) is a little ‘special’.  He is very smart and talented, but he is too smart!  You never know what will happen next – from untying himself, to getting out of his halter, to emptying every shelf in the wash rack.  He is easily bored.  Danao thinks he is the King!  He does not like other horses, and he thinks that he is very fancy and his favorite days are when he can show off during our ride!

Do you wear a helmet?

Yes, I always wear helmet.  Back in my hunter days I took a spill off a naughty pony going over a fence and had a nasty concussion.  That spill broke my helmet.  I learned early the importance of ALWAYS wearing a helmet.

How many days off does your horse have during the week?

My horses get two days off each week.

Do you go on trail rides often?

Zara and Wellie go on trail rides every Wednesday.  Danao does not do very well on trails, as there are a lot of roads to deal with near his barn.

What information can you tell other riders on the importance of care for your horse on a daily basis?

Dressage horses are athletes as well and require daily maintenance.  It is as important to cool them out as it is to warm them up.  After every ride each of my horses have their legs iced with ice boots.  Each horse has their own concoction of supplements that they consume daily.  The supplements help with everything from building top line, to gut health, to care of their joints.  Each horse has special needs and the supplements are geared to each one specifically.  This of course is supplemented with regular vet and farrier visits!

Your advice to the Dressage riders who are just beginning their career.

My advice would be to be patient; you will never stop learning to ride, as each horse will be different.  The second piece of advice is that you will make mistakes, but that is how you learn (I am still trying to remember this one myself!)

If you could train with anyone in the world, who would it be?

I would still train with Ashleigh, but if she were no longer available it would have to be Steffen Peters.

​What is your favorite musical freestyle you have seen and why?

My favorite freestyle was Steffen Peters and Legolas 92.  It is my favorite as it was fun, modern and it fit the movements of Legolas perfectly.  Too bad we will not get see this freestyle live any longer!

Who would you like to thank for their support?

It really takes a village to be an athlete in this sport.  My parents and my grandparents are so supportive and have given so much so that I can have the opportunities that I have been blessed with.  I would like to thank Ashleigh, the best trainer and mentor.  She is beyond supportive.  Deb and Bob Pulver, who allow my horses and I to stay in their fabulous facility.  It also extends to my aunt who house and dog sits every time we are away, my friend who babysits Danao while I am away and so many more. I am truly blessed and so thankful!

Goals for this next year for you and your horse?

My goal this year is to ride as a junior for Canada at the North American Junior Young Riders Championships in New York

What is your favorite quote that you love and would like to share with others?

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney


Thank you Brooke!