Here is Clare’s interview:
My name is Clare Krska and I am a 20 year old from Olathe, Kansas. Currently, I have been training and showing dressage for ten years in USDF Region 4. My main horse is a 1998 Dutch mare named Romincka. I’ve taken her from second level to Intermediare 1. She has taught me so much in our past 4 years of partnership. With her, I have gone to NAJYRC twice (2010 and 2011), won the 2010 USDF Seat Medal finals and earned my bronze and silver USDF medals. My passion for dressage began with a sensitive first pony and has developed into a love of training horses. Now, I try to have one or two other horses in training at all times and give lessons in my spare time. I have worked with Steffen Peters, Conrad Schumacher, Jan Ebeling, Heather Blitz and more. I’m also an active pony club member in Mission Valley Pony Club and enjoy competing in show jumping/eventing as well. Outside of riding, I’m a full time student at University of Kansas seeking a BS in Organismal Biology with a pre-med interest. Someday, I hope to be an interventional radiologist and still competitively ride dressage.
1.When was the first time you saw a rider and horse performing Dressage?
The first time I saw anyone showing dressage was when I was nine years old and at a schooling show. Before that, I used to watch my mom take lessons on her off the track thoroughbred.
2.When did you first start riding Dressage?
My first “real” dressage lesson came when I was 10 years old. But before that, I was always riding dressage—I was pretty scared to jump. I’ve been a member of Mission Valley Pony Club since I was 8 and riding since I was 4, I’d been exposed long before hand.
3.Who was your first trainer and who are you currently training with?
My first trainer was Rebecca Rigdon. I was very fortunate because she lived right across the street from my house. Since she has moved to San Diego, I now occasionally work with her mother, Arlene Rigdon. She gives me two or three back-to-back lessons and then I’ll go work on everything she taught me for the next 3-6 weeks until the cycle starts over again.
4.What training advice has been the most influential in your riding?
Each horse is different. Don’t get on a new horse and assume what you’ve previously done will work the same way with them.
5.How do you warm up your horse and why do you think it is important for warm-up?
My horse gets a short warm-up. Her best work tends to be in the beginning of our rides because she comes out of her stall a little fired up. The morning starts with her coming out and getting about 10 minutes of lunging with just a halter on. She’ll get her muscles all stretched out and have some time to herself. Then, I get on about 20 minutes before my ride. She gets a few minutes walking, a few more are spent in a long-framed posting trot and then its to work. As long as she’s on my aids, I’ll do a few tempis, lengthenings and a short half pass each direction. Then she’s allowed to walk until the horse before us is 3/4th the way done with their test. I’ll take a last minute to jazz her up and then we go in. Each horse requires a different warm-up and this one works best for Romincka.
6.Do you follow the Pyramid of Training scale?
I take the Pyramid of Training into consideration, but I don’t strictly follow it. I feel it has good guidelines, especially for a young horse, but I try to cater my training to what each horse needs in the moment.
7.Do you include rest breaks in your training sessions?
Yes, I have anywhere from 1-6 rest breaks in each training session. There is always one after the initial warm up so the horse can catch their breath before the real part of the work begins. If I’m teaching them something new or the training session is a longer one, they get more rest breaks as rewards.
8.Do you watch your peers ride in lessons and what do you learn?
I try to. I usually come away with some new piece of knowledge about a training technique or how someone’s position affects their horse. Even if it’s not some idea that I can utilize in my riding at the time, I feel that it’s always good to know as much as possible.
9.How often do you show?
I go to 3 or 4 qualifying shows usually within the span of two or three months. Shows around Kansas City are only in the late spring-summer, so they’re hard to find. After those, the past two years I’ve gone to NAJYRC in Kentucky. Then, I usually attend Regional Championships. In addition to the dressage shows, I go to a couple jumper shows and events around the area.
10.Who grooms for you at your shows?
My mom and myself! My mom is the best groom around. She helps me clean up my horse and drags water bottles, sugar cubes and everything else to the ring.
11.Do you braid your own horse?
I braid my own horses and generally a few others around me. After the years of practice I’ve gotten pretty quick and can braid a mane in 15-20 minutes. I think everyone should learn to braid because in the long run it saves so much money! Plus, it’s a nice time to chill with your horse before you go in the ring.
12.What is your horse’s personality like and what is his/her favorite goodie?
Romincka is the horse that never wants to do anything wrong. She takes mistakes very personally and will get mad when she messes up. She’s very honest and will let you know if you’re doing something wrong as well. She’s not generally spooky or hot, but occasionally will come out of the stall a fire-breathing dragon. Roms will eat just about anything. She’s a very polite begger if she sees any treats around. Her absolute favorite thing to do is canter around a cross-country course all strung out, relaxed and pop over a few jumps.
13.Do you trail ride and how often?
Romincka gets trail ridden as much as weather permits. It’s a great cool down or warm up! She loves it. She’s been taken to the local parks to brave the 5 miles up and down, through the hills, in the creek, over the ditches—you name it, she’s done it. Between trail riding and cross-country, she trusts me to guide her through whatever. This makes it really convenient at shows when it rains and the arena is sloppy and wet.
14.What are your goals for you and your horse?
I would love to be able to compete Romincka at Grand Prix someday. As long as she’s happy and healthy, we will continue to compete. In her later years, I want her to serve as a schoolmaster for anyone that wants to learn.
15.What is your favorite Dressage music freestyle performed?
I really liked using the bond violin music. They have some very entertaining stuff that is still cohesive. It makes it easy for me to mix and fun for others to watch.
16.Who is your favorite rider?
17.What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
Remember to keep working on yourself. Try and force yourself to ride a couple times a month without stirrup, or set other personal goals that aren’t score/show based.
18.What can you share with other riders the most important advice of learning Dressage?
Take your time. You may want your goals to happen this show season, but don’t push your horse too far, too fast. In the long run, training will end up going faster if you have patience and do it right the first time.