Chase Robertson

1. How did you get started in Dressage?
About 5 years ago, I was jumper, I wasn’t set on continuing it so when it came
time to sell my jumping pony that I outgrew, I kept my eyes open for anything. With my
jumping pony I did do some dressage shows and I really enjoyed them. When I started
looking for my next horse, I looked at dressage and jumping horses, but unexpectedly,
my jumping/dressage trainer was at a cowboy auction and she called me and told me
there was a very nice warmblood at the auction with nice movements, so we
immediately drove to the auction and I instantly fell in love with him and we ended up
bidding on him and buying him. Him and I competed up to first level. One day, I was
riding in a clinic for my first time with Verena Sonstenes-Mahin and she told me “I see
potential in you. You could do Juniors/Young Riders some day” and every since that
day, I was hooked on dressage and wanted to do Juniors/Young riders.

2. Where do you train at?

I ride at a private barn in Priddis, Alberta CA and 2-3 months in the winter I train
out of Dove Hollow Dressage Centre in San Diego USA

3. Who do you train with currently?

My trainer in Canada is Pia Fortmuller, and in the United States is Verena
Sonstenes-Mahin, both are Grand Prix riders.

4. Are you a working student?

As of right now I am not, but once I graduate high school in 2 years, I am
planning on going to California to be a working student for Verena Sonstenes-Mahin
for the summers.

5. How many lessons a week do you have?
I have about 3-5 lessons a week.

6. Do you keep a riding journal of your rides everyday?
As of right now I do not, but it’s something I actually would really love to do so I
can look back at my progress and make notes about my rides, and if there was a training issue during my ride, I could write down what I did to fix it so I could prevent it
in the future.

7. Do you follow the Dressage Training Pyramid in your everyday riding?
I don’t follow it ‘step by step’ but I definitely make sure I achieve each of the
steps during my ride, preferably in the warm up so I know his body is working the right
way and engaging the right muscles before I start to do the more technical
movements.

8. What do your warm-ups with your horse consist of?
Our warm ups consist of lots of walk to trot transitions, trot to canter transitions,
walk to canter transitions, stretchy circles and changing of directions.

9. What training exercises do you find challenging?Right now, I think the most challenging exercise is our extended walk. He is a
little race car and loves to show off, so he likes to do the “fancier” movements more.
He rushes the walk and doesn’t fully extend his neck, but we have definitely improved
and work on our extended walk every ride.

10. Do you wear a helmet at home and at the show?
Yes, I wear a helmet at home and showing. I know several riders, friends and
even family members who would be dead right now if they weren’t wearing a helmet
when they fell off. Horses have their own minds and because of that, horses are so
unpredictable. Some horses spook at things at us as humans wouldn’t even look at,
like a glade of grass blowing in the wind. I personally think as a rider, we are doing
such a high risk sport, we must protect our heads.

11. How many days a week do you ride your horse?
I don’t have a set week schedule. I just ride him for 3 days, and then give him a
day off, and then 3 days on again, etc. So everyday he has off changes every week
and one of those days is an easy ride or a trail ride.

12. What lesson impacted your riding the most?
The first time I went off course in an international competition. It really showed
me that every rider has competitions like this, and lots of riders came up to me
afterwards and told me that it’s happened to them several times. No rider is perfect
and going off course isn’t the end of the world, its okay to mess up and I think us as
riders put so much pressure on ourselves in the ring to do good and win, and too much
pressure can actually make us forget what to do. One night my one trainer Verena and
I went on a walk around the showgrounds after night check, and she said, “You can
love the sport when you are winning everything and doing great things, but only true
riders love this sport when they are having huge obstacles thrown at them and maybe
they don’t horse anymore, maybe it’s lame, but still don’t give up and still work hard to
get back on top again.” It’s not winning that defines you, it’s how you handle it when
you don’t, and I think that’s what changed how I am as a rider, competitor and person
in general.

12. What lesson impacted your riding the most?
The first time I went off course in an international competition. It really showed
me that every rider has competitions like this, and lots of riders came up to me
afterwards and told me that it’s happened to them several times. No rider is perfect
and going off course isn’t the end of the world, its okay to mess up and I think us as
riders put so much pressure on ourselves in the ring to do good and win, and too much
pressure can actually make us forget what to do. One night my one trainer Verena and
I went on a walk around the showgrounds after night check, and she said, “You can
love the sport when you are winning everything and doing great things, but only true
riders love this sport when they are having huge obstacles thrown at them and maybe
they don’t horse anymore, maybe it’s lame, but still don’t give up and still work hard to
get back on top again.” It’s not winning that defines you, it’s how you handle it when
you don’t, and I think that’s what changed how I am as a rider, competitor and person
in general.
13. Tell us about your horse.
Winsome is a 16’1hh Dutch Warmblood gelding, by Obelisk x Jodena in 2003.
He was born in Holland. Winsome was imported to the United States when he was a
young horse, and was trained up to a very high level. We bought him from his lovely
past owner and I am currently doing Junior Young Riders with him. Winsome is all
black with some white markings on his face and muzzle and a on his front left hoof and
he has a white marking across his coronet band. He has such a sweet, loving, goofy,
puppy dog personality, some days I think he forgets he is 15 and acts 6. He truly is my
heart horse and I’m so blessed to have him as my own.
14. What are your goals for this next year for you and your horse?
My short term goal is to go to the North American Junior & Young Rider
Championships in New York and represent Canada this summer
15. Do you cross train?
Yes, I workout 3-5 days a week, mainly focusing on my core/ab, and leg
muscles. I think it’s super important to be strong, in and outside of the arena and do
whatever you can to improve your riding

16. What advice can you give to riders who are just starting out in Dressage?
Never give up! Dressage is sport where you need patience and dedication.
There will always be haters and ups and downs but if you work hard enough, try hard
enough, commit enough and willing enough, you will move up the levels and you will
succeed. Personally I think, dressage gets even more fun, as you move up the levels,
so the harder you work, the more fun you have!
17. If you could pick any horse to ride, who would it be and why?
I personally would love to ride Anna Buffini’s horse, Sunday Boy. He clearly
shows that he puts his heart and soul into ever ride, in and out of the show ring. He is
such a beautiful mover and does all of the grand prix movements. I really, really look
up to Anna Buffini and I love her, and her attitude, horses and riding techniques. Riding
one of her super talented horses would be a dream come true. I have always looked
up to the “Anna and Sunday Boy Dream Team” since I first meet her and watched her
succeed in Young Rider/U25 Young Rider. It really inspired me and motivated me to
follow in her footsteps, as well, riding the horse she had all of those experiences and
success with would be so amazing.
18. Who would you like to thank for their support?
My loving and supportive family for making the long drives nationally and
internationally, supporting me financially, emotionally and mentally, my inspiring
coaches (past and present) for believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself and
pushing to my full potential, VS Dressage, Dancing Feet Dressage, my amazing
sponsor’s Hansbo North America and Equicrown Canada for keeping Winsome’s body
and legs healthy and happy, Equus Physio, my friends and the riding community. It
truly takes a village.

19. What is your favorite quote that you would like to share with others?
“Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have
achieved, but what you have overcome” – Fannie Flagg

20. What are your favorite books to read?

I love reading animal books (A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey) and
educational books about dressage and horse training

 

Thank you Chase!